While there’s no shortage of top sporting events this coming weekend including the Davis Cup Final between France and Switzerland in Tennis and Arsenal taking on Manchester United in the Premier League. There are also a number of top quality Rugby Union internationals, arguably the biggest sporting event takes place at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabu where the culmination of the F1 season takes place.
With Mercedes having tied up the Constructors Championship a couple of races ago, this weekend’s events are all about who will claim the driver’s title and there are just two contenders in with a chance of lifting the prize: German Nico Rosberg and Brit Lewis Hamilton; both drivers for the all-conquering Mercedes team.
Hamilton leads the standings at the present moment in time having accrued 334 points this season, but Rosberg, after his win in Brazil, has now closed the gap to 17 points. Ordinarily, this would still be a healthy lead for Hamilton to take into the final race of the season, meaning Hamilton would have to finish no lower than 6th to confirm the title.
This season, however, the final race of the year carries double points and that means Hamilton’s 17-point lead over Rosberg isn’t the cushion it would have been in previous years.
How can Rosberg or Hamilton win?
It also leaves us with some interesting scenarios that could play out: For Rosberg to win the drivers title he needs to finish at least in the top five positions, but even then, that may not be enough to take the title from Hamilton.
If Rosberg finishes sixth or lower, Hamilton will win the Driver’s Championship regardless of where he finishes.
If Rosberg finishes 1st in the race, but Hamilton finishes 2nd, Hamilton will win the title by three points; but if Hamilton finishes 3rd or lower and Rosberg wins the race, the German would take the title by three points or more depending on where Hamilton finishes.
If Rosberg finishes 2nd, then Hamlton has to finish no lower than 5th to claim the title.
Should Rosberg finish 3rd, Hamilton has to finish no lower than 6th and if the German finishes 4th, then Hamilton can finish no lower than 8th to win the title.
Finally, if Rosberg finishes 5th, earning 20 points, he would need Hamilton to finish 10th or lower to claim the title for himself and Germany.
Such is the dominance of Mercedes this season however, that of all the scenarios listed above, the only seemingly plausible one for Rosberg would be for him to win the race and Hamilton to finish either 3rd or lower, or to be forced to retire from the race.
Victory or 2nd place in the race for Hamilton would guarantee the British driver his second world title.
Other intriguing storylines for Yas Marina
While most of the focus (and betting) will likely be on the Rosberg/Hamilton battle for the title, that is not the only intriguing storyline about the season-ending Grand Prix. There are a number of other smaller, but not insignificant threads interweaved into the fabric of the Yas Marina race.
It is the end of an era for Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull as it is an open secret that next year the German will be Ferrari’s lead driver. The man he is replacing at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso, will be heading up McLaren next season, probably at the expense of the 2009 World Driver’s Champion, Jenson Button.
Button’s future in F1 is uncertain, with the veteran British driver seemingly keen to explore other avenues of motorsport, rather than race in F1 with a less than competitive car.
Not that there’s likely to be many options for Button, or indeed any other driver without a seat next season as both Marussia and Caterham have had to pull out of the last couple of races due to financial problems.
The unfair discrepancy of how F1 finances are divided between the teams is an issue F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has admitted needs rectifying, but one he has also stated he has absolutely no idea about how to resolve.
There is also the somewhat thorny issue about whether the ‘double points’ race in the final Grand Prix of the season is really fair. Especially when you consider Hamilton has won double the amount of Grand Prix (10) that Rosberg has won (5) this season.
With so many issues still to be resolved, it promises to be a hugely exciting finale to the F1 season.
Top F1 bets this weekend
Finding value in F1 betting can be a real headache at times and unsurprisingly, the odds on Rosberg or Hamilton winning the race outright are very short indeed. Hamilton is 5/6, with Rosberg 6/5 with Bet365 and with Rosberg facing almost certain defeat in his race for the title unless he finishes first, I’d take the 6/5 available on Rosberg winning the race here.
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There are two reasons for that, Rosberg must win to give himself a realistic chance of winning the drivers title, whereas Hamilton knows that finishing 2nd will be good enough and with Mercedes so strong compared to even their closest rivals, Hamilton will be confident that even if Rosberg wins, he can hold onto 2nd spot to take the title.
Hamilton is the 1/5 favourite to take the Driver’s Championship, but if you think Rosberg can pull off a shock win, then the German is a 10/3 shot with Bet365.
Finally, my final bet to consider would be in the Podium Finish market and while Hamilton and Rosberg are an unbackable 1/6 to take two of the three podium spots, the third is very much up for grabs.
At 11/8 Williams driver Valtteri Bottas looks a decent bet here, especially with Vettel and Alonso likely to have their minds already focused on next season.
The only other driver I’d consider backing is Daniel Ricciardo (13/8). The Aussie hasn’t enjoyed the best run of form of late and he’d like to get back to the podium to remind us that he has won three races this season, his first as a Red Bull driver.