Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview: The Title Showdown
Abu Dhabi is the scene for the final race in the 2016 Formula 1 season and the title decider between Rosberg and Hamilton.
After 20 gruelling races across 4 continents, the paddock takes to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi for one final outing.
Up for grabs is the Formula 1 title being fought out between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
There could be few better locations for such a race than the futuristic Yas Marina track.
Built at a breathtaking cost of $1.5 billion it is the most expensive dedicated Formula 1 circuit – and it is clear that no expense was spared.
Located on the eastern side of Yas Marina, the 5.554km/3.451mile track features two long straights and weaves itself around the yacht lined marina and Yas Viceroy hotel.
While Yas Marina circuit may lack the history of Monaco or passion of Silverstone, it makes up for all of that with the unique challenge of being the only twilight race on the calendar.
And that makes it quite a spectacle.
From the super yachts lining the track, glittering cars under the lights, the sparkling Yas Viceroy hotel to the immaculately painted track, there is something special about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Title Showdown
Over the years, Yas Marina has featured three title deciding races and it will again host another championship showdown – this time between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
On the face of it, Nico Rosberg has the title within his midst needing only to finish third even if Hamilton wins.
Rosberg will play the safe game and not take any risks, removing himself from any scraps that could threaten his race. But even they will probably be rare given the track is so well suited to the Mercedes.
“I have to treat this like any other race. Doing a good job on a grand prix weekend is always a challenge,” said Rosberg.
“Nothing in this sport is easy, so this won’t be any different and I still have to go all out for a good result.”
“I have great memories from winning at this track last year and it’s somewhere I’ve usually been strong in the past, so I have every reason to feel confident.”
“The closer it gets, the more I’m feeling excited. It will be a big battle and hopefully the fans will get a great show to end the year.”
For Hamilton, his only hope is for a victory and for Rosberg to either crash out or have mechanical problems – something he has avoided all season.
Hamilton admitted to facing “pretty impossible odds” saying ahead of the race: “I can’t and won’t give up. You never know what might happen – however unlikely it may seem.”
This weekend will also feature farewells for Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.
Massa is walking away from the sport following an illustrious career and an emotional exit at his home race in Brazil a fortnight ago.
Button, meanwhile, keeps a contract at McLaren for another two years to assist in a backroom capacity and will race his final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
The Englishman is one of the most popular and talented drivers among the paddock. Known for his ability in the wet weather, he has enjoyed success over the years with the highlight undoubtedly being the 2009 championship won with Brawn.
As Button reflect on his final race he said: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend, and have been for a few races now. It marks a very special chapter in my life and I’ll have my friends and some of my family out in Abu Dhabi.”
“It’s going to be a hugely emotional weekend and I hope with the support of the fans, the team and the people that are closest to me, we can go out there and give it our absolute maximum and enjoy the weekend.”
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will start at 17:00 local time and will run over 55 laps.