Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Betting: Bottas and Verstappen both have points to prove

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas has not won for Mercedes this year
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Lewis Hamilton may already have wrapped up the title and James Gray suggests you focus on a couple of drivers who still have plenty of reasons to race...

"A front-row lockout for the Silver Arrows would be a record fifth in a row and Valtteri Bottas looks great value for the win at [5.30]"

If this were the Premier League and I were writing a tips column, I would be scrambling around with some very long squad lists and under-appreciated Wikipedia pages, trying to work out which 15-year-old might open the scoring for Southampton.

But perhaps because of the jeopardy of the sport, with which we were provided with a terrifying reminder by Sophia Floersch in Macau this week, F1 drivers do not know how to, pardon the pun, take their foot off the pedal.

Max Verstappen also reminded us how, even though Lewis Hamilton has wrapped up the F1 World Drivers' Championship, he still has penalty of fire in his belly; Esteban Ocon was the man to suffer his wrath for troubling the lapping Dutchman in Brazil two weeks ago.

Bottas to break 2018 duck

It is now a year since Valtteri Bottas has won a Grand Prix, and a couple of times this year he has had to sacrifice himself for Hamilton's cause. But with the title now wrapped up, there should be an opportunity for the Finn to fight his own corner.

There are not many tracks where Mercedes do not have a recent track record of success but the Yas Marina Circuit is particularly kind to them, it would seem.

A front-row lockout for the Silver Arrows would be a record fifth in a row - and it should not be ruled out. Bottas took victory in Abu Dhabi last year and looks excellent value at [5.30] to claim another win in the desert.

Verstappen with something to prove

When Verstappen lines up with Pierre Gasly next season, he might hope that Red Bull finally recognise him as their official No 1 driver.

He might also hope that Red Bull - and crucially their Honda engine suppliers - recognise their errors from 2018 give him something better than his current [5.40] shot at the 2019 F1 World Drivers' Championship.

But before any of that, he will be desperate to wave goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo in style. He has out-qualified and out-raced the Australian but still has plenty to play for - he is just three points behind Bottas in the standings and could snatch fourth with a fair wind on Sunday.

A [4.90] win seems unlikely but given the strong pace he showed in the first practice session, he should navigate his way onto the podium which is priced at [1.79].

Alonso out on a high?

F1 aficionados will always talk with a middle-distance glare about the talents of Fernando Alonso.

But the truth is that ever since Alonso became world champion for the second time in 2006, his career has been a series of poor decisions.

Everywhere Alonso went, the car turned into a shopping trolley and his final spell at McLaren has been the crowning glory of that rule with his 50 points mostly accumulated by some miraculous drives in the first half of the season.

Since then, it has been more bad-tempered radio messages and two retirements in the last three races.

The romantic in me wants to believe he can finish on the relative high of a couple of points in the Middle East - but the realist in me wants to lay such a result, even though that will almost certainly be at relatively chunky odds.

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