2022 Abu Dhabi GP Preview and Betting Tips – JP
2022 Abu Dhabi GP Preview and Tips
We managed to nail the winner of the Brazil GP in our raceday update. Now, we move onto the final race of the season and James Punt has one last preview. Check out his 2022 Abu Dhabi GP outright betting tips below.
2022 Abu Dhabi GP Raceday
The Abu Dhabi GP is the final race of the 2022 F1 season. The organizers pay a premium to host the final race, hoping that they will stage an exciting title settling race, as was the case last year. But more often than not, the title has already been decided and they get to host a dead rubber.
There are still a few things to be settled, like who will finish second in the championship. Red Bull want to get their first ever 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship but it seems that Max Verstappen is not going to help his teammate achieve it, so if he is to get there, he will have to do it by himself. He is currently tied on 290 points with Charles Leclerc.
Mercedes have closed to within 19 points of Ferrari and that is very much within striking distance, especially if Mercedes can bring the kind of performance they showed in the last few races. That said they have only closed the gap by 11 points across the last three races.
Battle For 4th
The battle for 4th place took a huge swing towards Alpine in the last race after McLaren had two DNFs and Alpine recovered from a disastrous sprint race to finish 5th and 8th. They are 19 points clear of McLaren and this track should suit them quite well.
Alfa Romeo have scored three points in the last two races and are 5 points clear of Aston Martin, who have only scored a single point in the last two races. Alfa have found a bit of performance in the last few races whereas Aston Martin have lost a bit of the momentum which was propelling them up the constructors’ table.
Rare Russell Win
We finally got a race won by someone other than a Ferrari or Red Bull driver last week when George Russell won the Sao Paulo GP for Mercedes. He also won the sprint race and set the fastest lap of the race, his fourth fastest lap in the last five races. We are now back racing at sea level and it will be interesting to see if the denser air impacts on the draggy Merc, or have they just finally sorted their car out? If they are challenging for the win this weekend then it bodes well for them in 2023. We will understand more after this race.
There is no doubt that Mercedes have made steady progress with their car and given the right conditions, it can be the fastest car on the grid. Red Bull were off the pace in Brazil, the car was oversteering and just plain slower than the Merc. Track specific or real pace?
Probably a bit of both and the sprint weekend format did Red Bull no favours as they had to lock in a bad set up on Friday and carry it through the weekend. They didn’t have the time to find their sweet spot while Mercedes hit it early.
It didn’t help that they miscalculated the properties of the various tyre compounds and Perez in particular was hampered by having just one set of new soft tyres for Sunday’s race. He did much of the race on the mediums, which were slower than the soft, but degraded at much the same rate.
Verstappen started on the medium tyre, again thinking it would last longer and be faster after a few laps, but that proved to be wrong. Again, this was due to them not having enough time to do a lot of running with just the one free practice session on Friday. It was just a messy weekend for them, and their car hasn’t suddenly got slower. With this being a normal weekend they are unlikely to trip up again.
Mercedes had a strangle hold on this race in the turbo hybrid era, winning it six times from 2014 to 2019. Red Bull had done well here in the pre turbo hybrid era, and they have won it with Max Verstappen for the last two years, albeit that last years was a tad controversial.
Pole Position Usually Pivotal
The driver starting on pole position has won the race for the last seven years and the other was from second place, so qualifying is going to be critical. The attrition rate has been erratic with just one not classified driver in three races, five in two races and everything in between for an average of 2.75 per race.
The weather forecast is what you would expect from this part of the world, hot and sunny for all three days.
The track layout features a 1.2 km long straight and two other longish straights and the third sector sees a slower sector with half the track’s corners. It is a fairly unique layout but it has hints of Baku in parts. It rewards a powerful car but braking and traction are important in the slower sector.
Straight Line Speed Key
The straights are the trademark of this track and should play to Red Bull’s season long strength of straight line speed advantage over the rest of the field. Overall it is a medium downforce track and should suit the best car which is still the Red Bull.
Qualifying is important and Leclerc has the most poles this season, but his last was in Singapore and since then Max has had two poles, Sainz one and Magnussen one. We won’t get the sort of freak conditions which allowed Magnussen to claim pole in Brazil and it is likely to be Verstappen vs. Leclerc. In the last ten qualifying sessions Verstappen has scored four poles, Leclerc three and one each for Sainz, Russell and Magnussen. Leclerc had six of his poles in the first eight races
Drivers with good records here are Lewis Hamilton, never worse than third in the turbo hybrid era. Max Verstappen has won the last two and been on the podium for the last four years. Sergio Perez hasn’t scored a point in the last two years but he was very consistent here before that with six consecutive top 8 finishes. Lando Norris has finished in the top eight for the last three years.
2022 Abu Dhabi GP Ante Post Selections
I have unsuccessfully been backing Sergio Perez in the last couple of races, thinking that Red Bull would be looking to help Perez win his home race and cement his second place in the championship. It hasn’t worked out thanks to Perez not being able to put himself in second place behind Verstappen in Mexico, and while he got himself into second place in the race in Brazil, the teams tyre strategy was wrong, and his race was doomed because of it.
The falling out between Verstappen and Perez when Verstappen refused team orders to give up his sixth place to Perez required a meeting between the two drivers and Christian Horner. The outcome, we are told, was that Verstappen would be happy to assist Perez in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP, if required. Hum….
Will Max Let Perez Past?
I think that means if Perez, who remember played a big part in helping Max to win his World Championship by holding Hamilton up at this very race 12 months ago, finds himself behind Verstappen in the latter stages of the race, he will let him past, if that is the only way to get Perez his second place. It may not be necessary. All Perez has to do is to beat Leclerc. If he is on course to do that, Verstappen keeps his foot down.
Since the summer break, the Leclerc vs. Perez H2H score is 4-4. There is also the inability of Perez to get himself directly behind Verstappen at the end of a race. Just three times has it been the case in the last eight races. It looks more likely that Verstappen will not have to cede the place to Perez as he won’t be in the right place to pull it off. As it should be, it looks like Perez will just have to roll his sleeves up and beat Leclerc fair and square.
No Favours at Ferrari
Of course, there is exactly the same scenario playing out at Ferrari. Will Sainz pull over to let Leclerc past if it means him finishing ahead Perez in the championship? It is probably more likely, but Ferrari did not ask Sainz to do just that in Brazil, despite Leclerc running directly behind him, albeit not close behind. Leclerc did ask, Ferrari said no.
My guess is that the teams are more interested in winning the race than getting a driver into second place in the championship. However, we now have a third player in the race win market. Mercedes have joined the party, far too late, but they now have a race win and a 1-2 finish.
We will now find out if that was due to a combination of Red Bull dropping the ball in Brazil and Mercedes finding their sweet spot quickly in a sprint race weekend, at a high altitude circuit which shows their draggy car in a better light, or that they now have a fully sorted package that is truly competitive.
Famine For Ferrari
Ferrari have not won a race since the Austrian GP. That is ten races without a win. The high altitude may have hurt them for the last two races, but it doesn’t explain the previous eight. The regulations introduced to reduce the porpoising (remember that?) in the summer does seem to have hurt Ferrari more than anyone else. Their qualifying and race performance has fallen. They now have Mercedes catching them and the knives are out.
We can back Max Verstappen at odds against for the first time in a while. This is the driver who has won eight of the last ten races, suddenly an odds against chance. Have the bookmakers overreacted to the Mercedes win in Brazil? It seems so.
Track To Suit Red Bull
This is a track that should be Red bull friendly. They are likely to be faster than anyone on the three straights here and while Mercedes will like the third sector, the bulk of this lap is driven with the foot flat to the floor. There is no sprint race format to trip them up this weekend and Verstappen will be going for his third win in a row in Abu Dhabi.
The Mercedes is still at its best in higher downforce set ups and this is only a medium downforce track. Putting on a lot of wing will help in the third sector but would make the car a sitting duck on the long straights.
2022 Abu Dhabi GP Tip: 2 points Max Verstappen to win the Abu Dhabi GP @ 2.38 with Hills, Skybet
This weekend will be the final GP of four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. His 101.00 pole position at the 2008 Italian GP was a betting highlight for me and he has landed us a fair few bets in the latter part of 2022.
He has not scored a point in the last two races but was just a bit unlucky in the topsy turvy Sao Paulo GP, finishing 11th, and the car just didn’t work at the high altitude in Mexico. They should be back in the frame for more points this weekend and hopefully Vettel signs off on a high note and a good result. He has had four top 8 places in his last eight races and back on a more normal track I fancy him to get a top 10.
2022 Abu Dhabi GP Tip: 2 points Sebastian Vettel to finish in the points @ 1.95 with Ladbrokes
Mercedes have bagged the fastest lap in five of the last nine races, and Russell four of the last five. He will be buzzing after last weekend’s win and while the fastest lap market can be a bit random (see Zhou’s FL in Japan) there does seem to be a case for Russell once again.
Verstappen is the 2.80 favourite for fastest lap despite him only having five for the whole season and none in the last six races. Ferrari haven’t had one since the French GP 10 races ago, so that has gone the same way as their qualifying and race performances.