Third Pole Position in a Row for Rosberg
Mercedes’ German driver Nico Rosberg had won the final of Abu Dhabi’s three practice sessions at the Yas Marina circuit, and showed that the 2014 drivers championship battle is far from over after beating teammate Hamilton to pole for the third race in a row, by 0.386 seconds.
Rosberg currently trails Hamilton by 17 points in the overall standings and, with double points awarded to all drivers and teams in the season-sending Abu Dhabi race, must make pole position count and hope that the Brit finishes lower than second in order to become 2014 F1 world champion.
Mercedes were crowned as constructers champions for 2014 a few weeks ago, earning further honours by matching McLaren’s long standing record of 12 front row lockouts (1-2’s) with Saturday’s result.
Second Row for Fast Williams
The Williams tandem of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas had suffered bodywork problems with their respective cars in Abu Dhabi’s early practice sessions, but rebounded with a 3rd for Massa and 8th for Bottas in FP3 on Saturday morning.
Later in the day, the pair locked-out the second row, with Bottas securing third place and Massa fourth during qualification. If they can hold onto these positions during the race, Williams will secure third place in the constructor’s championship.
Third Row for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi
Backing up their third row practice form, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel qualified fifth and sixth at Yas Marina – close to the Williams’ one lap pace and, in Ricciardo’s case, less than a second behind Rosberg’s.
Button out qualifies Magnussen
McLaren’s under-fire Jenson Button, who could be replaced by Fernando Alonso for the 2015 season, recorded an eighth place finish to qualify three places above rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix Betting
Pole-sitter Rosberg is priced at 6/5 with Betfair but is odds-on with all other firms, while it’s a similar situation with Hamilton at 13/8 with the same company yet 13/10 elsewhere. Given these prices, the pace advantage Mercedes enjoy over their rivals and how hard it is to overtake on the Yas Marina circuit, we’re backing Rosberg to win the race but would not talk you out of backing both to virtually guarantee profit.
So, with regards to the driver’s championship, despite the momentum and mental advantage swaying a little back towards Rosberg after the German won the Brazilian Grand Prix, we think that Hamilton will at least finish second in the Abu Dhabi race and that’ll be enough to make him a two-time world champion.
He’s suffered both heartbreak and joy in season-ending races when the title’s been on the line in 2007 and 08, so make sure you tune into BBC1 or Sky Sports F1 from 12:10 on Sunday to see if the Brit gets a second happy ending.
Advised Bet: Rosberg race winner @ 6/5 with Betfair