Sebastian Vettel will look to end what has been a frustrating 2017 F1 season by recording Ferrari’s first victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Sunday’s season-finale.
The German must be pondering what might have been had it not been for technical problems during the Far East swing of the campaign, the four-time Drivers’ champion having had a sizeable lead at the top of the standings at the midway point in the year.
Instead of joining Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time world champion, Vettel will only be able to watch on as Lewis Hamilton lifts the trophy for a fourth time, the Briton having wrapped up the honours in Mexico.
Vettel starts as the 5/2 second-favourite to take the chequered flag at the Yas Marina circuit but history is not on his side. No Ferrari driver has won at the venue in the eight years it has been on the F1 calendar and the Italians still seem haunted by Fernando Alonso’s failure to capture the world title at the track in 2010.
They look to have a decent chance of ending their wait for a win on Sunday though, Vettel having been fastest in first practice, while the Ferrari looks the slightly quicker car on the longer runs.
Mercedes and Red Bull are firmly in the mix though, Hamilton finishing fastest in second practice.
The newly-crowned world champion is the 20/33 favourite to end his year on a high and has a good record in the UAE, winning three times, including two of the last three renewals.
Hamilton came in to the week talking about how it has been a tiring season and it remains to be seen how on top of his game he will be on Sunday given he has already achieved his ultimate goal.
That could leave the door open for Vettel, or Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who are 15/1 and 11/1 respectively for the win. However, neither man has a great record at the circuit having never finished on the podium in Abu Dhabi.
With overtaking tricky, qualifying will be key and there the Mercedes might have the edge given they were quicker in the short stints in practice.
Away from the battle for first place, there is some value to be had in the top-10 finish market.
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