Mercedes driver sowed up his fourth world title in Mexico but his impressive record in the UAE capital means he is still very much the man to beat this weekend.
Yas Marina Circuit chief expects Lewis Hamilton to 'fight and compete' at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton may be arriving at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend for the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as world champion, but Al Tareq Al Ameri is confident the Briton will be going flat out to try and win Sunday’s race.
Hamilton sealed his fourth drivers’ championship last month with a ninth-place finish in Mexico.
But Al Ameri, the chief executive at Yas Marina Circuit, believes Hamilton’s competitive nature means there will be no holding back as he aims for a 10th win of the season and a fourth in Abu Dhabi to go with his successes at the event in 2011, 2014 and last year.
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“Even though he is already the world champion he is still fighting and competing,” Al Ameri said as he and his team complete final preparations for the ninth staging of the race. “So we expect to come to Abu Dhabi and put on a good show.”
Hamilton demonstrated two weeks ago in Brazil that he is still pushing himself to the limit when a crash in qualifying forced him to start at the back of the grid. He recovered in the race to finish fourth and just missed out on a place on the podium after he was held off by the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps of the race.
Hamilton has a lot of history with Abu Dhabi. He took pole position, when driving for McLaren, for the inaugural race in 2009. He also won his second world title three years ago with victory, and he shares the record for most wins at the race with Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton’s race number is No 44 and in 2015, the track had tied in with him to celebrate his third world title, while also honouring the 44th anniversary of UAE National Day that year.
“We are a big fan of Lewis Hamilton and we have great ties with him," Al Ameri said. “We did a big activation with him back in the day for the 44th anniversary of the country with his racing number.
“We always say we are the meeting point of champions and we welcome the world champion to come back and race.”
Hamilton’s biggest rival this weekend is likely to be Ferrari's Vettel, who has won five times this season, including last time out in Brazil.
The Italian team have never won in Abu Dhabi, and Al Ameri believes a win for them them would prove popular, although he expects Hamilton to have a big influence on their hopes of success in the UAE capital.
“Everybody knows the Ferrari team. I think there is a really big attachment, on the global scale, to the brand,” he said. “So it will be great for them to win in Abu Dhabi.
“But I think Lewis will put on a big fight for it so I think we are going to have a great event here.”