Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Betting: Hamilton's last hurrah inevitable

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton looks likely to be all smiles at the end of the race as well

Lewis Hamilton is at the end of a season in which he made history - again - and James Gray reckons he has got one more victory in him this year...

"Even Max Verstappen has been forced to admit that Lewis Hamilton has had great pace on long runs this season"

It was a strange thing to see Lewis Hamilton lose a drag race, something the Mercedes driver has almost never had to endure in the hybrid era. Even this year, only the Ferrari engine has been able to outpower the German power unit - so when Hamilton was unable to drive past Pierre Gasly on the run to the finish line two weeks ago in Brazil, it must have been something of a surprise.

What was not strange was seeing Hamilton waving to the crowd as he celebrated pole on Saturday and he will have a clear run to the first corner today.

Hamilton hard to look past

Abu Dhabi is a much stronger fortress than Brazil for the Mercs - although there are few tracks where they do not have a strong record - and Hamilton picked up pole position on Saturday with a fine drive, his first pole in nine races.

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed a "one-two" for Mercedes in the desert, although he will not start next to Hamilton after putting a new engine into his car.

Instead, the Brit will have Max Verstappen for company, whose Red Bull has looked strong but not altogether dangerous this weekend.

The pace of the Mercedes on long runs has been extremely strong all season by Verstappen's own admission and at a track that offers few good overtaking opportunities - hence the countless memorable moments of comings together that have resulted in spins here - Hamilton has to be my tip to take the win at 1/2.

Ferrari feel uncompetitive

The cockles of the Ferrari hearts would have been warmed by Charles Leclerc's lap time in the second part of qualifying, when he went a tenth of a second faster than both Mercedes cars. The team have been heavily briefing that they do not believe they are able to gain any advantage over their two fellow front-running teams because they are losing so much time in the twisty, third sector.

In terms of race pace, any concerted pressure they are able to exert on those ahead of them from third and fourth on the grid is likely to vanish when they hit the hotel sector at the end of the lap.

They were beaten by the Mercedes in qualifying and half a second slower than pole-sitter Hamilton - but they will see Bottas disappear to the back of the grid with an engine penalty.

With Alexander Albon seemingly unable to hook up a solid run at a track that requires plenty of familiarity, the Ferraris will essentially be racing each other and as such offer exciting value in the podium market.

Sebastian Vettel will need to be fast and lucky to end the season ahead of Charles Leclerc, 19 points ahead of him, but at 7/4 to finish on the podium, I am very interested.

Toro Rosso not even in their final form

From next year, Red Bull's second team will be known as Alpha Tauri, they confirmed this week, named for the energy drink giant's clothing brand.

And their reputation as a wolf in sheep's clothing is particularly apt this weekend, when they will be dangerous from outside the top 10.

New rules may end the regulations that require the top 10 to start on used tyres but at present, especially at Yas Marina, those who are not allowed fresh rubber at the start by virtue of qualifying in the top 10 are at a significant disadvantage.

Even Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, in his last race with Nico Hulkenberg alongside him before Esteban Ocon replaces the German, said he would rather be a bit further down the grid to get a fresh set on.

Gasly would surely rather have made it into Q3 but will also be more than happy to start on four new tyres and start taking shots at those in front of him from 11th, fresh from a podium in Brazil.

The likeable Frenchman also posted strong sector times in the final part of the lap faster than those around him, meaning with DRS he is likely to be an overtaking threat. Backing Gasly at 11/10 to take a points finish feels like a no-brainer.

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