2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix previewby Peter Higham on 24th November 2016
The Database preview of the all-important final race of the 2016 F1 season
Nico Rosberg enters this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix needing to extend his run of consecutive podium finishes to nine to clinch the world title. Mercedes-Benz team-mate Lewis Hamilton has won the last three races, all from pole position. If he wins the qualifying battle on Saturday it will be his 12th pole position of the year – the most in his F1 career – but it is Rosberg who has qualified on pole for the last two Abu Dhabi Grands Prix. The German won in 2015, while Hamilton has finished in the top two in four of the seven Abu Dhabi GPs to date.
Red Bull Racing appears best placed to get among the Mercedes and upset the championship order. However, neither Daniel Ricciardo nor Max Verstappen have finished on the podium in Abu Dhabi, though Sebastian Vettel won the race three times during his time with the team. Ricciardo has scored points in each of the last 16 races (since the Russian GP). Kimi Räikkönen holds the record for consecutive points scores – 27 between the 2012 Bahrain and 2013 Malaysian GPs.
Force India stands on the verge of finishing fourth in the world championship. Sérgio Perez has scored points in the last nine races and Nico Hülkenberg has qualified in the top 10 for 12 races in a row. The team has enjoyed double points-scoring races in Abu Dhabi for the last two years. Rivals for fourth spot Williams enjoyed a strong Abu Dhabi GP two years ago – finishing second and third – but last year Felipe Massa’s eighth-place provided the team’s only points.
Esteban Gutiérrez and Marcus Ericsson remain the only two full-time drivers not to have scored points this year. The Mexican has come closest, finishing 11th on five occasions. Esteban Ocon has finished all eight races since being promoted to Manor’s race team, 12th last time out in Brazil is his best finish so far.