Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Hamilton to prove he's a high flyer

Lewis Hamilton was a winner in Brazil even though he finished fourth
Lewis Hamilton was a winner in Brazil even though he finished fourth
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Ralph Ellis says Lewis Hamilton can wrap up the 2017 season by proving himself to be a champion in the broadest sense of the word.

"Expect him to bring his A game againwhich makes him worth backing to be the race winner on Sunday for the tenth time this season, even at [1.93]."

The bad news for Lewis Hamilton is that chancellor Phillip Hammond is increasing the tax on travelling by private jet. The good news is that he's getting a new contract to help pay for it.

You'd love to be the man doing the negotiating on Hamilton's behalf this weekend as the 2017 Formula One season wraps itself up at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

World champion, global star, marketing icon, daring and exciting racer. Hamilton ticks every box and Mercedes are going to have to dig deep to keep him happy.

The talk is of a three-year package worth £120million - which works out at £76,000 a week. (Pretty cheap, really, when you think Andy Carroll gets £80,000 for sticking his elbow in people's faces and scoring seven goals in a season.)

The one worry you'd have if you were the Mercedes executive who will be signing off the deal is whether, having collected the big bucks, Hamilton at the age of 32 would give his all for the three years. I think he's already answered that question.

His drive in Brazil two weeks ago, when he brilliantly picked his way through the field from last to fourth, was the performance of a winner, of a man whose growing maturity means he won't settle for anything but the best.

You can expect him to bring his A game again which makes him worth backing to be the race winner on Sunday for the tenth time this season, even at [1.93].

Abu Dhabi is a track that suits Mercedes. The team have won there for three years in a row and the long straights and flowing corners play perfectly into the hands of their 2017 car.

Mercedes would probably love to get Valtteri Bottas [8.6] on to the top step of the podium instead in the hope that Sebastian Vettel [4.6] wouldn't finish and their man could wrap up a 1-2 in the drivers' championship.

But in reality any chance of that was blown in Brazil when Bottas lost first place after starting on pole and then never showed any daring to attack Vettel despite what was at stake.

Having backed Bottas at good odds it was utterly frustrating to watch him simply trailing in the Ferrari man's wake for lap after lap, especially after I'd been patting myself on the back when he finished first in qualifying.

But it underlined that there's more to driving in F1 than just technical excellence. For those who sneer at Hamilton and say he doesn't deserve to be second favourite for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, it should be proof that success in the sport remains as much about the driver as the car.

It's why Max Verstappen has been such a hit this year, and the young Red Bull driver will be worth a punt when the market settles to achieve a podium finish in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton believes the 20-year-old will be a potential huge rival next season - Verstappen is [5.1] to be the 2018 Drivers Champion and will be as keen as anybody to lay down a marker.

Whatever the tax on private jets, they are both high-flyers in every sense of the words.

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