2023 Abu Dhabi GP Outright Betting Preview – JP
2023 Abu Dhabi GP Outright Betting Preview
In his last outright preview, for the Las Vegas GP, James Punt landed a beautiful 3 point bet at 7.00. Has he got any more strong fancies for this weekend? Find out in his 2023 Abu Dhabi GP outright betting preview.
2023 Abu Dhabi GP
The final chapter of the 2023 season is about to be written, but is anyone that interested? The combination of one team, one driver, having dominated to an unprecedented degree, meant the story was finished a long time ago. Now, even the nail bitter that was Perez’ battle to finish in second place is settled.
It is still reasonably important in terms of the battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship. There is only four points separating Mercedes in second place and Ferrari in third.
There will be a lot more prizemoney for whoever finishes second, but there is also a downside, with less wind tunnel and CFD allowed for next season for the second placed team compared the third placed.
Do they really care? Yes, F1 is full of competitive people and they want to finish as high as possible, while recognising they were a distant speck in Red Bull’s rearview mirrors.
The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi pays a premium to host the last race of the year, in the hope that it is the venue for a thrilling climax which draws the eyes of the world to their shinny baubles. They got that in 2021, but this is a dead rubber for all intents and purposes.
The 2023 Abu Dhabi GP Track
Pretty much the standard, modern, purpose built F1 track. It features the usual three straights, a few heavy braking events to aid overtaking, but not a lot in the way of proper fast corners. There are plenty of short duration corners, but not quite in the mould of Baku or Las Vegas.
There are two DRS zones on the two longest straights and there is the classic technical sector to give the engineers a choice of which way to go in terms of downforce settings.
The final sector has seven of the track’s sixteen corners and accounts for the lion’s share of the lap time, so being quick there can give a good overall lap time. However, choosing a lower downforce setup will pay dividends on the long straights and give you a better racecar for Sunday.
Unlike last weekend’s venue, the teams have a lot of data to draw upon and there will be no stepping into the unknown. This will be a much more ‘regular’ race weekend.
Who will it suit?
The simple answer is Red Bull. This is a track that has rewarded the best car. Since the first race of the turbo hybrid era in 2014, the first six races were won by Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton won four, Rosberg and Bottas one each. The last three races have been won by Red Bull, all three by Verstappen.
All nine races since 2014 have been won from pole position and there is a very strong pattern of the positions at the front of the grid being largely the same at the end of the race.
With qualifying being so important, getting pole position is vital here. However, that doesn’t mean that if Leclerc gets his fifth pole of the season, he wins.
This weekend will have much more normal conditions in terms of the track’s temperature, i.e. not cold. Graining will not be the issue around tyre talk, degradation will.
Ferrari had near perfect conditions in terms of both track layout and track conditions last week. This weekend, it is back to the usual fare. Ferrari have never won here and never had a pole position, and while they have had five of the last eight pole positions this season, it is less likely this weekend than last.
Of course, because everyone knows that Ferrari’s race pace is compromised by high tyre deg, Red Bull will be happy to set their car up for the race and to sacrifice grid position if necessary. It may not be necessary this weekend.
Mercedes vs Ferrari
In terms of the Mercedes vs. Ferrari battle, it is harder to say which of those teams it will suit. Ferrari have the quicker and more predictable car. It is going to qualify higher than Mercedes, but after that it comes down to race pace. Usually that goes to Mercedes.
The two Ferrari drivers are finishing the season in better shape than they have been in for most of the campaign. It has been another year of frustration and underachievement but some progress has been made, nothing great, but better than Mercedes.
Mercedes have again enjoyed fantastic reliability but they started the season with a poor design philosophy which limited their potential. They ditched that design and looked to have turned a corner, but their recent level of performance has been eclipsed by both Ferrari and McLaren.
Their drivers are making mistakes, their performance in Brazil was a new low and they look far from the sure footed outfit of a couple of years ago. Their car has a small sweet-spot and they can look a bit lost from time to time. Ferrari at least know what their problem is.
McLaren, and they were not alone, had a schizophrenic Las Vegas GP. Nowhere in qualifying but while Norris crashed out early, Piastri showed great pace, setting the fastest lap (McLaren’s second in a row) and making up eight places.
Ideally, McLaren like a track with a lot of fast, long duration corners such as Qatar, but they have become much more of an all-rounder, more competitive on any track. While this track is not ideal, they should be up there with Ferrari and Mercedes once again.
Indeed, nine podium finishes from the last twelve races makes them the second best team in the second half of the season. Another podium is within reach this weekend.
Hamilton and Verstappen have seven race wins between them in the turbo hybrid era, and a further six podiums. Being the best driver, in the best car, does it every time in Abu Dhabi. That is about it really.
The driver records here are very unremarkable. Drivers tend to get what their car deserves. Norris has a decent record in modest equipment, with four top eight finishes from his four starts. Now with a competitive car, a podium has to be a realistic target.
The rookie drivers will have raced here in the junior competitions and maybe F1 testing, so they should be up to speed more quickly than at some tracks. So, that again bodes well for McLaren with Piastri in their other car.
2023 Abu Dhabi GP: Team-by-Team
All the boxes have been ticked. All missions accomplished. This is a dead rubber, but Verstappen will still be flat out to win.
Motivated by aiming to relegate Mercedes into second place. They don’t have a great record here compared to Mercedes and Red Bull, but Leclerc was second here in 2022 and third in 2019. They have been OK here, just outshone by better cars.
Once dominant but now in the race to be best of the rest, and likely to lose that as well. George Russell needs a decent performance after blotting another copybook in Vegas.
The second best car right now and will be looking for yet another podium. They have blamed their struggles in Las Vegas on the car’s lack of competitiveness in low downforce set ups.
The car is much more effective in medium to high downforce set ups and sorting out their low downforce weakness is now a priority for next year’s car. This track is not an extreme low downforce track and while it lacks the long fast corners the car is so strong on, it will be a lot better than last week.
Finally getting a better understanding of their upgrades, but they are still a shadow of the team that started the season as best of the rest.
Your guess is as good as mine, or indeed theirs.
The biggest disappointment in Las Vegas? I think so. That was the track that was going to deliver big points, but it all went south in the race. Still seven points clear of Alpha Tauri and they look safe for a seventh place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.
Five points clear of Alfa Romeo and again, that should be enough. They may be able to get one car in the hunt for a point.
Are unlikely to make an impression on Alpha Tauri but should remain clear of Haas.
Bottom of the pile again and with a tyre shredding suspension, likely to remain there.
With the Yas Marina circuit being a track that rewards the best machinery, that shouldn’t hold any surprises in terms of the weather or track surface conditions, we should be able to predict the pecking order, at least nearer the front of the grid.
The best car is the Red Bull by some way. They stopped developing it some time ago and while the gap to their nearest challengers has closed a little, they still rule the roost.
Last year’s grid, the first here in the ground effect era, had Red Bull locking out the front row, Ferrari the second row and Mercedes the third row. That was also the final standings in the Constructors’ Championship.
Ferrari had a better car than Mercedes last year, but the gap was kept small as Mercedes were more reliable. It is much the same this year. Ferrari have the better car, but their problems with tyre deg have hurt them when the points are handed out.
McLaren Second Best
However, as we end the season, it is McLaren who are finishing it with the second best car. They started the season with a tarted up 2022 car and their season did not start until Austria. They had scored just 19 points in the first eight races, but they scored 254 points in the last thirteen.
For comparison, Ferrari have scored 234 and Mercedes 214 over the same period. McLaren have scored nine podiums in that period, Ferrari seven and Mercedes three (not including Hamilton’s DSQ from 2nd in the USGP). Norris has scored three second places and two third places in the last seven races.
Back on a ‘regular’ medium downforce track, I expect McLaren to be back on song. It isn’t ideal, so they are unlikely to give Red Bull any serious problems, but another podium looks a very realistic proposition.
2023 Abu Dhabi GP Tip: 2 points Lando Norris to finish on the podium @ 1.91 with Betfred
Oscar Piastri was being tipped to have crushed Norris by the end of the season by some, Australians presumably, at one point in the season. Nonsense of course, but he is very good, even if his results have been eclipsed by the much more experienced Norris.
Back on more familiar surroundings, Piastri should be more competitive this weekend. In 2016 -2017 he raced in the F4 UAE Championship, which included eight races here. He finished all eight in the top 6 and was 3rd twice. In F2 he had two sprint races here, finishing third in one and winning the feature race.
I was considering backing Piastri for a top 6 finish, but best odds of 2.05 look about right. However, I will continue on the McLaren theme by backing them to have the fastest lap.
This not a market I generally play in as it can be very random. So far in 2023 we have seen nine different drivers score the fastest lap, including the likes of Zhou and Tsunoda. Tellingly, no Ferrari driver has scored a fastest lap in 2023.
McLaren have scored three fastest laps, all in the last eight races. They have had the fastest lap in the last two races and Piastri has scored two of their three. Last year it was Norris who scored the fastest lap in Abu Dhabi.
2023 Abu Dhabi GP Tip: 1 point McLaren to set the fastest lap @ 6.50 with Betfred
That is it for now. There will be an update for Qualifying and that could be a competitive market, so a bit of a heads up from practice will help. There will be the usual RaceDay Update posted around an hour before the start of the race on Sunday.