Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview | The title beckons, but for Rosberg or Hamilton?

Preview the final round of the 2016 Formula One season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The title fight has gone down to the wire, with a twilight duel set to decide who is victorious in Formula One. But will it be Rosberg’s first driver’s world championship, or can Hamilton overturn his team-mate’s lead to retain his crown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? All the while, Button and Massa bid their farewell’s to the sport with retirement around the corner.

Both Mercedes drivers have tasted success in Formula One. But only Hamilton has been capable thus far of tasting ultimate glory. The Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.

With Lewis even edging out his Silver Arrow team-mate for the title over the previous two seasons. Taking the fight down to the wire in 2014, where Abu Dhabi formed the battleground for the first Hamilton v Rosberg showdown.

A showdown Hamilton won as Rosberg was left with an ERS issue plummeting the German down the order and out of the points. A race that should have seen Nico retire, but for the German to fight on for the flag.

This year, however, Rosberg goes into the race with title glory more than within touching distance. And a mountain for Hamilton to overcome.

For Rosberg only needs a podium finish in the season finale to wrap up his first Formula One title. With Nico going into the weekend 12-points ahead of Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his third Formula One Drivers' World Championship title. Photo Credit: Mike Boudreaux.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his third Formula One Drivers’ World Championship at the 2015 USGP. Photo Credit: Mike Boudreaux.

As for Hamilton, he has to win his third Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while Rosberg comes home no higher than fourth if he is to snatch the title.

Even if Rosberg crosses the line in sixth place, a win for Hamilton is still the only result that would see the German not be crowned champion on Sunday.

A result akin to Hamilton’s first taste at title glory back in 2008, when all Lewis needed for the title was fifth place in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix no matter where Massa finished.

Hamilton also carries the momentum into this year’s season-finale having won the Brazilian Grand Prix last time out.

Felipe Massa at the 2008 Singapore GP. Photo Credit: Paulo Alano.

Felipe Massa at the 2008 Singapore GP, a key race for the championship. Photo Credit: Paulo Alano.

Speaking of Felipe and the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, the race solidified the perspective of the man. Dignity. With Massa standing proudly with tears in his eyes as he celebrated home Grand Prix glory shortly after believing he had the title.

That dignity has stuck with Massa throughout his time in Formula One and appeared once more in Brazil last time out as he crashed out of his final home race.

Now, Massa heads to Abu Dhabi for his final race in Formula One. And what would be his 250th Grand Prix start – after entering 251 thus far.

Felipe Massa walks back to the pits with tears in his eyes after retiring from the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. Copyright Williams Racing.

Felipe Massa walks back to the pits with tears in his eyes after retiring from the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. Copyright: Williams Racing.

Massa is not the only Formula One driver bowing out of the sport in Abu Dhabi, with Jenson Button also stepping out of the cockpit for what is likely to be his last time.

For while Jenson has not officially retired from Formula One, he will step aside for 2017 and allow Stoffel Vandoorne to race for McLaren while Jenson remains part of the team. Then in 2018, McLaren have the option to bring Jenson back into the line-up – should the 2009 F1 champ wish to.

Jenson Button, racing for BrawnGP, in his 2009 championship winning season. Photo Credit: Sam Badeo

Jenson Button, racing for BrawnGP, in his 2009 championship winning season. Photo Credit: Sam Badeo.

Outside of the title fight and retirement farewells, another key battle has gone the distance this season. The battle for fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Like Rosberg and the drivers’ title, Force India head into the season finale with a sizeable margin over their rival – Williams. A margin Williams is unlikely to be able to overcome as well.

Williams is unlikely to be overcome the margin as the 27-points between them would mean Massa and Bottas would need at least third and fourth place just to level the score. That being without Force India scoring a single point, too.

In the extremely unlikely circumstance that Williams do level the score on 163-points each, Force India would, however, still remain in fourth place on countback of best results.

As although both teams have finished a race this year stood on the podium, Force India have more often. Finishing both the Monaco and European Grand Prix in third place compared to Williams only podium in Canada.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday - Monte Carlo, Monaco

Sergio Perez celebrating third place at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix. Copyright: Force India.

For the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Formula One paddock returns to an un-altered Yas Marina Circuit.

The circuit located on the man-made Yas Island debuted on the F1 calendar back in 2009 and consists of 21 corners over a distance of 5.554KM. 

Over the five and a half kilometres, the circuit comprises of three sections all boasting different characteristics. The first sector is a mix of high-speed corners and short straights, before the middle sectors two long DRS straights. These straights allow cars to reach speeds of up to 320km/h and is where most of the overtaking occurs. Then comes the final sector of the circuit where the track becomes tight and overtaking is near-on impossible.

Yas Marina Circuit - Copyright formula1.com

A track guide to the Yas Marina Circuit. Copyright: Formula1.com.

The race this year, though, will see the ultrasoft tyres used at Yas Marina for the first time. With the purple-walled tyres also heavily favoured by drivers throughout the field.

The middle-compound, supersofts, have been selected the least overall.

Pirelli tyre selection Abu Dhabi GP 2016

The season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be broadcasted live in England on both, Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1. With GP2 and GP3 also returning to Sky Sports F1 for their season-ending races.

Full broadcast schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, November 23
20:30 – F1 Report: Abu Dhabi Preview

Thursday, November 24
11:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference Live
20:45 – Paddock Uncut
21:00 – Abu Dhabi Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday, November 25
07:15 – GP2 Practice
08:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice One Live
08:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice One Live (Channel 4)
08:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice One Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11:10 – GP3 Qualifying
12:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two Live
12:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two Live (Channel 4)
12:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15:10 – GP2 Qualifying
16:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference
16:30 – The F1 Show

Saturday, November 26
08:20 – GP3 Race 1
09:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Three Live
09:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Three Live (Channel 4)
11:25 – Lee McKenzie meets Mark Webber (Channel 4)
11:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Build-up (Channel 4)
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Build-up
12:55 -Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Live
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race
18:50 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday, November 27
08:55 – GP3 Race 2
10:15 – GP2 Sprint Race
11.30 – Abu Dhabi GP Track Parade Live
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Build-up (Channel 4)
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Pit Lane Live
13:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Race Live
13:00 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15:30 – Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Live
16:15 – Senna vs Brundle
17:45 – Abu Dhabi GP highlights

*Times above are for Sky Sports F1 unless stated.