All eyes in the racing world will be on Abu Dhabi this weekend, as the Formula One season comes to a close, and with it, one of the most intense and interesting battles in F1 history.
When the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starts on Sunday afternoon, the season long battle between childhood friends and Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be settled, with one of the two being crowned Formula One World Champion. Al Arabiya reports that tickets for the event have sold out, even after an additional 5,000 tickets were released for sale. The crowd of 60,000 will be the largest ever to watch an Abu Dhabi grand prix.
Entering the Abu Dhabi race, Rosberg trails Hamilton by only 17 points. This year, the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, decided that double points would be awarded for the final race. Under the regular points system, Rosberg could win the championship by winning the race, with Hamilton finishing seventh or worse. But, with double points up for grabs at Abu Dhabi, if Rosberg wins, Hamilton must finish second in order to win the title. If he finishes third or worse, and Rosberg wins, Rosberg is the new world champion.
There are other scenarios in which Rosberg could win the championship without winning the race, but those would require that Hamilton finish far back. Even if Hamilton were to score no points at Abu Dhabi, Rosberg would still have to finish fifth or better to be crowned champion. Hamilton’s path to the championship is simpler: finish ahead of Rosberg at Abu Dhabi.
French Formula One superstar Alain Prost does not care for the double points system. According to The Times Of India, the former world champion called awarding double points in the Abu Dhabi race “artificial.”
“I was never in favour of double points because it’s artificial. Maybe sometimes it could be good for the interest of the championship. But I don’t like very much the idea of a race giving more points than another.”
Prost added that he also did not care for the current system which awards 25 points to the winner of a Formula One race. He said he preferred the previous system, where the winner received 10 points.
The Mercedes team has dominated the sport this entire season, with either Hamilton or Rosberg winning 15 of the 18 races held so far. The winner of the other three races, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, could be a factor in Abu Dhabi. Ricciardo has impressed in his first season after moving up from the Toro Rosso team, taking over for the departed Mark Webber. All season long, Ricciardo has outperformed his teammate, four time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Also looming, as potential spoilers of the Mercedes day in Abu Dhabi, are the Williams drivers, Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas. Williams is the other major team with Mercedes power, and as the season has progressed, Massa and Bottas have been steadily improving. Bottas was third behind Hamilton and Rosberg in Russia, while Massa ran third behind the Mercedes duo in both the U.S. and Brazilian races.
While one thing is certain at this point: being that come Sunday afternoon, the new Formula One World Champion will be either Lewis Hamilton, or Nico Rosberg, there are many scenarios that could play out for one or the other to achieve that goal. One thing is certain: the 55-lap journey from start to finish of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is likely to be one for the Formula One history books.
[Image via Sport 360]