The 2017 F1 season comes to an end this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit, the now traditional season finale venue. As we head to Abu Dhabi, we’ll be waving goodbye to an old friend, revving up for an intense battle in the midfield, and potentially watching Lewis Hamilton complete a rare feat.
Here are your reasons to watch all the action this weekend!
The Fight For Sixth
There’s one major battle worth millions of dollars to be fought at the final round of the championship. Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas are embroiled in a three-way tussle for sixth, with just six points separating them.
Toro Rosso, who lead the trio at the moment, have been dogged with engine problems over recent races, which have left them vulnerable to attack by Renault and Haas. Toro Rosso’s best finish here came at the track’s debut in 2009, when Sebastien Buemi brought his STR4 home in eighth.
Renault have had their own issues with three retirements in the last three races. Nevertheless, Carlos Sainz’s pace in Austin, which scored the team six points, shows that on a good day the car certainly has the pace to get the job done.
Haas’ main issue seems to be with their drivers at the moment, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen each getting involved in collisions on the first lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix which ruined their races and cost them a shot at any points. Although Haas failed to score in Abu Dhabi last year, if their pairing have a clean weekend, you can’t write the American underdogs out of this battle just yet.
McLaren could still take 6th in the constructors championship too – if they win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Place your bets!
The End of the Road
The unsuccessful re-ignition of the McLaren Honda comes to an end in Abu Dhabi after three seasons. It has been a pretty fruitless affair for the once legendary partnership, which has provided more Fernando Alonso memes than Constructors’ points. While McLaren bid farewell to the Japanese manufacturer, Alonso is already talking up his title chances for 2018.
Felipe Massa, after his hero’s welcome on the podium in Brazil at the last round, makes his final race appearance – and this time it’s for good. While speculation continues to grow over who’ll take his seat in 2018, Massa himself will be hoping for a showing as good as his race in Brazil, a seventh place which he described as ‘like a victory’.
We may also be saying a premature goodbye to Pascal Wehrlein too, who looks set to lose his Sauber seat.
Sauber Driver Announcements
Sauber are expected to announce their 2018 driver line-up this weekend, with Ferrari protégé and this year’s F2 Champion Charles Leclerc almost definitely joining the team.
For the other seat, the Swedish backers of the team are understood to be keen to keep Marcus Ericsson on board, while Ferrari wish to place 2016 GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi at the team.
Sauber are expected to be more aligned with Ferrari next year, and there is even some speculation that their engines may be badged as Alfa Romeo engines for next year, bringing the name back to the sport for the first time since 1985.
Sauber and Williams are the only teams yet to confirm their driver line-ups for 2018.
Hello to the Halo!
For the final time, we’ll be seeing F1 cars without the halo device on them. In a move which will change the look of Formula One and has already divided opinion among fans, all cars will be fitted with a mandatory cockpit protection device from next season. The addition of the device is already causing a headache for the designers integrating it into the design of their 2018 cars.
It’ll also be the last time we see the current model of F2 car, which has been raced since the 2011 GP2 season. The new for 2018 F2 car will also sport a halo.
A Rare Achievement for Hamilton
This weekend, Lewis Hamilton stands on the brink of doing something very few F1 drivers can claim to have done – finishing every race of the season.
After Esteban Ocon’s 27 race long clean streak came to an end on the first lap in Brazil, Hamilton is the only driver with a shot at completing the feat this year. Most recently, Daniel Ricciardo finished every race of the year in 2016, but over the sport’s illustrious history, it’s an achievement which has only been done a handful of times.
Only on five occasions since the turn of the millennium has a driver completed every race of the year. Should Lewis see the chequered flag on Sunday, it’ll be the first season in his career in which he’s finished every race.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live both on Channel 4 and Sky this weekend, with the Qualifying session and the Grand Prix beginning at 1pm. Make sure you don’t miss your last slice of F1 action for four months!