5 Top Picks & Preview: Abu Dhabi GP

A long season of Formula 1 ends here as Yas Marina once again hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

For teams and drivers, it’s a final chance to enjoy success in 2019, and with the championships long since decided, they are free to go all out for victory.

Last time out in Brazil saw the perfect example of the kind of action that freedom can provide, with Max Verstappen leading the most unexpected podium in recent history ahead of Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz.

That kind of unpredictability might be less likely at Yas Marina, but a brilliant twilight battle is still on the cards at one of the most spectacular circuits on the calendar.

About the race:

This year sees the Abu Dhabi GP celebrate 10 years as part of F1, having first taken place in 2009.

In that time, the race’s location at or near the end of the season has led to plenty of dramatic moments.

After winning the inaugural year, Sebastian Vettel followed it up with a second win in 2010 which also earned the German his first F1 title after Fernando Alonso infamously got stuck behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.

In 2012, Kimi Raikkonen knew what he was doing as he won arguably the most eventful race in Abu Dhabi for Lotus, his first win since returning to F1 after a two-year sabbatical.

The past five years, however, Mercedes has dominated at Yas Marina, with Lewis Hamilton claiming three victories, while Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas have won once each.

In that time, Hamilton’s success in 2014 earned him his second world title, but another win in 2016 couldn’t stop Rosberg pipping him to his only championship.

In total, Lewis has four wins in Abu Dhabi, one more than Vettel with three, while more incredibly, Ferrari has never won in the UAE.

All this has taken place on the Yas Marina Circuit which was F1’s first billion-dollar facility thanks to the big hotel, big grandstands and pretty much big everything

The track itself though isn’t one of the most challenging, with two long straights into chicanes and the rest predominantly 90-degree turns.

Still, there is a race to take place and that means a chance for you to win prizes in our daily fantasy leagues, so here are our final picks for 2019.

Top Pick: Mercedes ($31.8m)

While Brazil might have been a disaster for Mercedes, it’s tough to see anyone beating them in Abu Dhabi.

Both Hamilton and Bottas are specialists around the circuit so choosing between them for the victory is tough.

What is easier to predict though is, while the gaps are very close, the tyre advantage Mercedes has enjoyed all year may well give them the edge.

Medium pick: Alex Albon ($13.7m)

Interlagos was a case of what could have been for Albon, having been just a few laps from his first F1 podium before being taken out by Hamilton.

Still, his pass on Sebastian Vettel was the biggest statement the British-born Thai driver has made since his promotion to Red Bull and with his confidence likely boosted by his performance, he is certainly the best medium-priced driver available. 

Low pick: Lando Norris ($6m)

In many ways, we’ve rode along with Norris on the rollercoaster of luck he has had in his rookie season.

The Briton and his McLaren team have consistently been one of the leading midfield runners all year but reliability or other factors have sometimes denied him the results he has deserved.

Given the potential of other drivers around him at a similar price, however, we’ve stuck with Norris as our low-value pick and we will do again for one last time in Abu Dhabi.

Notable picks:

Carlos Sainz ($9.4m)

Fresh from his first F1 podium in Brazil, Sainz will look to claim sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship this weekend.

Currently, the Spaniard is tied with Pierre Gasly, who also stood on the rostrum at Interlagos, but his McLaren should be the quicker car at Yas Marina and indeed, will likely be the fastest midfield team once again.

Nico Hulkenberg ($10.6m)

Two drivers are set to say farewell to the F1 grid this weekend, one being Robert Kubica and the other Nico Hulkenberg.

While another race at the back sadly awaits the Pole, Hulkenberg can target a much stronger final Grand Prix with Renault ending the year quite strongly.

For a driver that has not achieved what he should in F1, it would be fitting then for the German to end his career on a high in Abu Dhabi.

And that’s it, that’s our final preview and picks for F1 in 2019. Head on over to PlayOn.co now to build and enter your fantasy teams now because it will be a long four-month wait until we do it all again in 2020!


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