A lot still at stake in the season-ending race

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A lot still at stake in the season-ending race
Spectators enjoy pit lane walk ahead of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi is all braced up to put on a show again, with the UAE capital rolling out the red carpet

By James Jose

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Published: Thu 23 Nov 2017, 6:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Nov 2017, 9:28 PM

Another  season has rumbled on, and fittingly, Abu Dhabi, the 'diamond' in the F1 crown,' will put the icing on the cake, so to speak, on the 71st season of Formula One motor racing and the 68th Formula One World Championship.
Quite a lot has changed since last season, not least Liberty Media's acquisition of Formula One from CVC Capital Partners.
The old man of Formula One - Bernie Ecclestone, who ran the sport for close to four decades, will not be prowling the paddock of the Yas Marina Circuit. But the show, will and indeed go on.
It is still a work in progress as Formula 1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn, formerly team principal of Ferrari, BrawnGP and Mercedes, charts a new course for the sport.
And Abu Dhabi is all braced up to put on a show again, with the UAE capital rolling out the red carpet, as usual, for the country's centrepiece event of the year.
The yachts, of different sizes, with the UAE flag fluttering, have already been moored just across the Yas Viceroy Hotel, teams are busy setting things up, dry runs are ongoing, as we speak, and it will be all systems go from Friday.
The Drivers' and the Constructors' Championship has already been put to bed by Briton Lewis Hamilton and his team Mercedes respectively. But it isn't by any means a dead rubber.
There's still a lot to play for in the ninth running of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.
First up, it should be a cracking tussle for second in the Drivers' Championship between Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.
Vettel currently occupies second with 302 points but the German's spot in under threat from Bottas, with the Finn 22 points adrift with 280 points.
Bottas, the former Williams driver, could steal second and make it a Mercedes one-two at the top if he wins on Sunday. But he will also need a slice of luck, perhaps more than a slice for that to happen. Bottas, whose best finish is third in Abu Dhabi, will be hoping against hope that Vettel finishes ninth or lower for the best finish of his career so far.
There are mini battles too further down the order with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo trying to fend off the 'Flying Finn' Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. Australian Ricciardo is on 200 points, with Raikkonen seven points behind.
There are a few more tussles with Hamilton and Vettel, championship contenders earlier during the season, going head-to-head to become the most successful driver in Abu Dhabi.
Both have three wins apiece and this weekend is an opportunity to go clear in the UAE capital. The pair also have another statistic to top in terms of laps led here in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton has led for 181, while Vettel has been in front for 142 laps and the German could get past the Briton if he leads for 40 laps on Sunday.
Vettel triumphing on Sunday will also break a rare duck for Ferrari, with the 'Prancing Horses' having never won here so far.
Red Bull and Mercedes have three wins here, while McLaren and LotusF1 have won one.
This weekend will also mark the end of Felipe Massa's career with the Brazilian veteran racing one last time, with Williams.
The weekend also sees the end of the three-year-old marriage between McLaren and Honda with the Woking-based team parting ways with the Japanese marquee.
McLaren will partner Renault next season, while Honda will team up with Toro Rosso.

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