This weekend will see the culmination of what has been an exciting, topsy-turvy and at times, acrimonious season in Formula 1. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has become the traditional season-closing Grand Prix in recent years but none of the past races promises to have the drama of this one.

That is because two drivers go into this final race of the season locked together on points. Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes have both amassed 369.5 points over the course of the season and that means that whoever finishes ahead of the other driver in the points this weekend, will be World Champion.

However, should both drivers not manage to add to their totals, which is possible if unlikely, then it would be Max Verstappen that is awarded the world title as he has managed to win more races this season than his Mercedes counterpart.

As always, you can bet on the race at bet365 Sport this weekend, which is especially good if you have some bet365 credits to spend from your sign up offer. Readers based in the United States can check out what BetRivers Sportsbook has to offer as this offers a good selection of F1 bets.

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The Story Of The 2021 F1 Season So Far

So what has the story been of the season and how have we reached the final race of the year with two drivers locked together on points?

In truth, it has been a really mixed season which has seen both Red Bull and Mercedes have the upper hand at various parts of the campaign. Early on in the season, it was Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton that led the way winning three of the first four races, before Red Bull roared back with Max Verstappen winning four of the next five.

In the mid-point of the season from the Hungarian GP to the Mexican Grand Prix, Max Verstappen seemed to gain hold of the title, winning four ceaces in that time to Hamilton’s one, but since Mexico, Hamilton has won the next three races in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to close the gap between the two completely.

Outside of these two dominant drivers only four other drivers have won races this season, Sergio Perez in Azerbaijan, Esteban Ocon in Hungary, Daniel Ricciardo in Italy and Valtteri Bottas in Turkey.

The level of consistency shown by both drivers is astonishing. Verstappen has not finished three races this season, Hamilton just one. However, in the races he has finished, Verstappen has been outside of the top two just once (a 9th placed finish in Hungary). Hamilton has been outside the top two on five occasions.

Hamilton has won seven races, Verstappen nine.

Mercedes lead the constructors championship and will likely claim that title at the weekend, barring a disastrous weekend as they have a significant lead over Red Bull who would need both their drivers to finish in the top two and the Mercedes drivers to fail to score points or finish lower down the top ten in order for them to claim the title.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix History

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been a regular late season or final race of the F1 season since 2009 and has seen a number of famous drivers win the race.

Sebastian Vettel has won the race three times, Lewis Hamilton has won it a total of five times, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas have all won the race once each.

However, Verstappen’s win came last year when the race was the penultimate race of the season.

This year’s race will see some major changes made to the track to encourage more racing and faster corners, which designers will hope add excitement to the race.

Changes will include the turn 7 hairpin being widened, turns 11 to 14 to be replaced with a single banked curve and the radius of turns 17 to 20 increased so that cars can carry more speed through both these parts of the track.

A chicane at turns 5 and 6 is also set to be removed.

This will significantly alter the track and make for better racing after the circuit was heavily criticised over recent times for producing somewhat uninspiring races due to the difficulty for drivers to overtake.

Driver’s World Championship Race

There has been real rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen this season, as well as between their two teams. The drivers have clashed a number of times this season, notably in the British Grand Prix, where a collision between the two sent Verstappen’s car into the wall and the driver to hospital for checks.

The two have also clashed in other more recent races as the driver’s championship has become more intense, including an incident at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend when Hamilton clipped Verstappen’s car as he did not want to overtake his rival just before a DRS zone and Verstappen braked hard to slow his car down to allow Hamilton to pass, so he could then try to overtake him using the advantage of DRS.

Many are wondering if we will see a repeat of the famous incident in 1990 when Ayrton Senna took out Alain Prost to win the World Championship in the final race of the year after what he viewed as being given a competitive disadvantage by being placed on the dirty side of the track on pole, while second place Prost was on the clean side of the track in second.

Prost took the lead in that race at the start and at the first corner, Senna dived down the inside, caught the Ferrari of Prost and took both drivers out of the race.

Given how often Hamilton and Verstappen have collided over recent weeks, there is a feeling that something equally dramatic and decisive could well happen this weekend, so toxic has the relationship between the two drivers and their teams become over recent months.

Betting Odds

After seeing a big improvement in speed and performance from his car in the past three races, Hamilton is the 8/15 favourite to win the race over Verstappen who is 15/8. Hamilton is also a seven-time World Champion, so he also has that advantage.

My money would go on Hamilton winning the race if both drivers go the distance, however something tells me that there is going to be a lot of drama in Sunday’s race and that things may not be quite so straightforward as that.