Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads at the start the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Dec. 12. 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

F1 RACING SEASON FINALE: ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX BEST BETS

Patrick Werkmeister

For the season grand finale of Formula 1, from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit, the battle between Mercedes and Red Bull all comes down to this one race. Max Verstappen for Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes come into this race dead tied, and this will be the first finale since 2016, between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, where the drivers’ championship is still up for grabs. Following a tow from his friendly teammate, Max was able to zoom around the track and earn pole position on the grid for Sunday, but Lewis will be starting directly behind him. With this in mind, here are the best bets and props I love for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton to Win (-115)
With Lewis starting 2nd and nearly qualifying for pole on Sunday’s grid, he is in a great position to win his 5th world championship in a row and 8th overall. While Lewis will be behind his archrival Saturday, this year’s track at Abu Dhabi will look quite different, so expect a lot of action in this race from lights out to the checkered flag. Despite not getting pole, Lewis seemed focused as he and Max went back and forth, but Red Bull will need to be flawless if they want a chance of derailing Lewis. Lewis and Mercedes have dominated Abu Dhabi year after year and they look to continue that into the final day. Last weekend in Saudi Arabia, Lewis and Max were in a fierce battle for first until Max incurred a penalty against Lewis, which allowed Lewis to take home 1st. While Red Bull has pole position for Sunday, this circuit is a new look and has plenty of spots for DRS that are prime for overtaking. Additionally, there is speculation that Mercedes will make an engine change in Lewis’s car for this final race whereas Max would be racing an engine at least three races old. Last time Lewis made an engine change, he came all the way from the back to come in first this year in Brazil. Take Lewis to grind out a victory at his favorite track and outpace Max and Red Bull in what should be an absolutely electrifying race from start to finish.

Sergio Perez Podium Finish (+115)
After putting up some fast results during qualifying sessions, Sergio’s quickness was on full display Friday and Saturday in Abu Dhabi. While it was a very impressive start for Checo, he only qualified for 4th on the grid for Sunday’s race. However, overall Red Bull and their drivers looked tough to beat to start the weekend. Last time out in Saudi Arabia, he suffered a DNF where Max took home 1st place points for the drivers’ championship. Now that it’s the conclusion of another F1 season, these two have really displayed the benefits of teamwork in racing to get Max his first championship. Although Sergio is behind his dominant teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and McLaren’s Lando Norris; his grid placement should not be a huge factor in the outcome. At odds of +115, this prop has tremendous value. Due to the fact he has been so consistent and has shown he can dominate; I would put Sergio as a high favorite to be in the top 3. He’ll want to stay close by to Max in case he needs assistance, so expect him to be giving it an all-out push. Take Perez to get a podium. 

Charles Leclerc Top 6 Finish (-105)
After keeping up with the pack during qualifying sessions, Leclerc’s quickness was on full display Friday and Saturday in the UAE. While it was a very impressive start for Charles, he only qualified for 7th on the grid behind his teammate and all Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. However, he looked like he could outpace Carlos Sainz with his refined abilities. Last time out in Saudi Arabia, he was able to put together a modest 7th place performance and finished above Carlos. Now that it’s the season finale, he is pushing his car to the brink in order to keep their third place spot on the podium in the constructor championship, where they are ahead by 37 over McLaren. Although Charles is behind the most dominant cars with even more quickness behind him; his grid placement should not be a huge factor in the outcome. At odds of -105, this prop has exceptional value given his track record. Due to the fact he has been so consistent recently; I would put Leclerc as a strong pick to be in the top 6. Take him to place top 6 as he tries to stay close to his normal racing partner, who is in the top 5.    

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