Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has been risk averse in each of the last three races and one thinks that leaves the door wide open for Lewis Hamilton to dominate this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
There are several Formula One title permutations going into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but the most basic one is that the championship will be Rosberg’s if he finishes in the top three, regardless of what Hamilton achieves. So Rosberg can allow Hamilton to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix provided that he takes the chequered flag in either second or third place.
The biggest threats to Rosberg collecting his first Formula One title are reliability and accidents. There is probably nothing that Rosberg can do about reliability – if his car breaks down then it will simply be a case of terrible luck – but there is something that the German driver can do about accidents. One would be astonished if Rosberg drives aggressively, in either qualifying or the main race.
A Mercedes car has started 19 of this year’s 20 Formula One races from pole position – Daniel Ricciardo’s qualifying performance ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix was the odd one out – and one cannot see Rosberg chasing first place on the grid anything like as hard as Hamilton. The superiority of Mercedes is such that Rosberg can probably drive at 90 per cent and qualify faster than every driver except his Silver Arrows teammate and that is what one expects he will do.
Hamilton is predictably short odds to claim his 12th pole position in Formula One this year but one prefers the odds of +100 that Bet365 is offering about him doing the pole position-race victory double for the fourth time in a row.
It has been the Hamilton show ever since Rosberg took a strangehold on this season’s Formula One championship. Hamilton was more than two-tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix and the British driver won the race by 4.520 seconds. Hamilton was more than one-quarter of a second quicker than Rosberg in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix and the British driver won by the race by 8.354 seconds. And Hamilton was more than one-tenth of a second quicker than Rosberg in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix and the British driver won the race by 11.455 seconds. If Rosberg does not retire then Hamilton must win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and hope that his Mercedes colleague finished lower than third, something that he has done five times in this term’s 20 races and one of them was the Spanish Grand Prix that neither of the Silver Arrows stars managed to complete.
There are many Abu Dhabi Grand Prix conspiracy theories doing the rounds, the most common of which is that Rosberg will take out Hamilton and ensure that neither of them takes the chequered flag. Rosberg is desperate to emulate the feat of his father, Keke, in winning the Formula One title but surely he does not want to be remembered as the driver who won the championship by crashing into his only challenger.
One’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix forecast is that Hamilton will qualify fastest, take the opening corner of Sunday’s race in first place and cruise to a comfortable victory. One thinks that Rosberg will do enough to prevent Hamilton going back to back, even if it does not make for riveting viewing.
Lewis Hamilton Pole-Win Double
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Qualifying Saturday 26th November, 13:00 GMT