x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Button still has plenty to prove in finale

An exciting race should be in store for Abu Dhabi fans and the track will provide plenty of overtaking opportunities.

The circuit's start and finish line from the main grandstand.
The circuit's start and finish line from the main grandstand.

Both the World Championships may already be decided but I believe there are enough ingredients and interesting elements attached to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to make it one of the best races of the season. You have the new drivers' championship winner in Jenson Button, who will be keen to prove that he is worthy of the crown, and he will be up against Lewis Hamilton, who won the drivers' title in 2008 and is in his last race as Formula One's reigning champion.

Then you have Sebastian Vettel, who will be eager to beat the guy who beat him to the championship, as will Rubens Barrichello, Jenson's teammate, who will be keen to beat him in what could be his last race for BrawnGP. I think the most interesting thing for people to look out for at Yas Marina is what kind of performance Jenson delivers in his first race as a world champion. He would be the first to admit that he had a disappointing second half of the season and you could visibly see the relief and delight in his face when he finally claimed the title in Brazil.

I know he has criticism in some quarters for his below-par results and qualifying displays, and I am sure he will be keen to put in a very strong performance to say: "Bang, I am back and I'm the new world champion." I think he is capable of doing that and on a new track that no one has raced on before it will be wide open, and I expect to see Jenson pushing hard and being back to his best. But it may not be enough for him to be ahead of the best car in the field, which I feel is the Red Bull with Vettel and Mark Webber driving, and Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes, which I think will be suited to the design of Yas Marina.

The Red Bulls will be very tough to beat, having won in Japan and Brazil, and I expect Vettel and Webber to be very strong again, with Hamilton pushing them hard. It is not just at the front of the race that there will be fascinating stories which will be played out over the race weekend. Kimi Raikkonen will be keen to have a strong end to his career at Ferrari and he will also be anxious to put on a good show as he has yet to sign with a team for the 2010 season.

The situation is the same at Toyota, where Jarno Trulli will need to put in a good display if he is to either stay on with his current team or get a race seat elsewhere. Timo Glock is unfortunately not going to be able to race because of his injury and that gives another chance to Kamui Kobayashi, who put in an impressive performance in Brazil. There are stories up and down the grid and usually in these circumstances, when there is no championship at stake, you see the drivers roll up their sleeves and look to simply put on a good race and go all out for the win.

That is what I expect to see here and I think we could see a very tight race which will be helped by the excellent new Yas Marina Circuit. Looking at the track I think the organisers have to take a lot of credit as they have done a great job in creating a circuit that presents a lot of overtaking opportunities. There are a number of long straights which are followed by tight corners and that usually allows for drivers to try to get past a car in front if they are being held up.

I think the hotel section which they go under is going to be great visually, especially when the lights are on when it is dark. Those long straights will bring a lot to the racing and I am confident they will create overtaking chances that will give the thousands of watching fans plenty of entertainment. @Email:sports@thenational.ae