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Verstappen Perez unity as Ferrari out to avoid embarrassment - What to expect at the Abu Dhabi GP
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Verstappen Perez unity as Ferrari out to avoid embarrassment - What to expect at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen Perez unity as Ferrari out to avoid embarrassment - What to expect at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen Perez unity as Ferrari out to avoid embarrassment - What to expect at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen Perez unity as Ferrari out to avoid embarrassment - What to expect at the Abu Dhabi GP

The final race of the season is upon us as F1 arrives at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

There will not be the same controversy or drama as there was in last year's finale at the Yas Marina circuit.

But with second in both championships yet to be decided and a number of send-offs up and down the grid, the paddock is not without its talking points.

Here's what to expect from the traditional season curtain-closer.

Red Bull to bounce back from horrid weekend

Let's face it, Red Bull had a horrible weekend in São Paulo.

The pace drop off from previous races as the team struggled to find a set-up window to suit the tyres left Mercedes as the team to beat.

But crucially, Max Verstappen's unwillingness to avoid contact with Lewis Hamilton - and the Briton's own robustness - ensured there would be no 15th win of the year at Interlagos for the two-time champion.

The Yas Marina track layout should be better suited to the RB18 and its superior straight-line speed, though Mercedes will enter the weekend with confidence high.

Sergio Perez will also be up for the fight after losing ground to Charles Leclerc in Brazil but how much help will he get from the other side of the garage if he needs it? They both say it will happen.

Mercedes momentum swing in full effect

It would be fair to say not many people would have expected a Mercedes victory this year after the first 10 races, such was the enormity of the task in hand.

But the Silver Arrows were a cut above at Interlagos, with the one-two a well-deserved result.

George Russell has clinched that difficult first race win and can now kick on knowing he has proven he can battle with the best the planet has to offer.

Perhaps more interesting is how Hamilton responds this weekend and across the winter, given his lack of experience of losing to a team-mate. History dictates a fire will be stoked and the very best will be released.

For this weekend, however, the focus will be on overtaking Ferrari in the race for second in the constructors' standings, with the gap at 19 points.

An uphill task for the Brackley-based team, but one we now know it is capable of achieving.

Ferrari hoping to avoid embarrassment

The uphill task may well be made easier by a faltering Ferrari outfit that seems devoid of control this season.

Brazil let yet more cracks appear in an already fragile operation, with Leclerc clearly allowing his frustration to boil over.

One good weekend in Abu Dhabi is all the Scuderia needs to avoid what would undoubtedly be an embarrassment should Mercedes complete its overhaul.

Reports, which were strongly denied by Ferrari ahead of the race weekend, suggested Mattia Binotto would be removed from his position ahead of next season, such is the calamity that has followed the team around the world.

It is hard to believe Ferrari hasn't won a race since Austria in July. Can there be a happy ending to a year that started out so promisingly?

Alonso-Alpine to end on a high

Tempers may have flared between Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Alpine, but things look to be finishing on a positive note.

Yes, there were arguments across the Interlagos weekend but the final result saw both A522s in the points, while both McLarens retired from the race.

That leaves the Woking-based team 19 points adrift and all but consigned to fifth in the constructors' standings.

For Alonso, that would be mission accomplished, though the Spaniard is adamant he has lost 66 points for his own championship through Alpine reliability issues.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer will no doubt be hoping for a smooth weekend with no incidents, no arguing and a double top-10 to finish the season on a high.

F1 driver exodus headlined by biggest miss

F1 loses a handful of drivers this weekend, with Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher all losing their seats for next season.

But the biggest loss will be Sebastian Vettel, who retires to end a career that started in 2007.

Four world championships and 53 wins will headline the stats but the biggest compliment you can pay the German is that he has been his brilliant self throughout.

In recent years, his legacy has shifted to incorporate more of his socio-economic and environmental awareness views, with his incredible use of his platform leading the way alongside former rival and now 'ally' Hamilton.

F1 regularly loses drivers to retirement or category swaps, but you will be hard-pressed to find as big a loss as Vettel will be.

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