With just one round remaining in 2016, the 21st and final race in Formula 1’s longest season ever, there’s still plenty up for grabs in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix beyond just the World Championship.
Here’s a look at the respective Driver and Constructor Championships and what could change on Sunday:
- The World Championship: Nico Rosberg will win his maiden World Championship for Mercedes AMG Petronas with a podium finish. Even if he fails to make the podium, he can still win it provided teammate Lewis Hamilton doesn’t outscore him by 12 or 13 more points (right now they’re tied with nine wins apiece; at the moment, Rosberg holds a 4-3 edge in runner-up finishes). Rosberg leads 367-355 going in.
- Fourth place: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) leads Max Verstappen (Red Bull) by five points, 197-192. If Verstappen overtakes him – which he could do with third place and Vettel fifth or worse – it would solidify the teenager in fourth behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who is guaranteed third place. Kimi Raikkonen has an outside shot, 19 back in sixth, but would need a win and some help to leapfrog this high.
- Tenth place: With Sergio Perez (Force India, 97), Valtteri Bottas (Williams, 85) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, 66) likely to stay in seventh through ninth, barring a shock result, the battle for 10th place sees three drivers separated by only seven points. Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 53), Felipe Massa (Williams, 51) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso, 46) will be scrapping over the minor points in Abu Dhabi and provided one of them can finish in the sixth or seventh range, they’ll likely end P10. Alonso and Sainz have outperformed their machinery this year while Massa has underperformed, although Williams has regressed. The Brazilian will be looking to go out on a high in his final Grand Prix.
- P13-15: Romain Grosjean (Haas, 29), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso, 25) and Jenson Button (McLaren, 21) are only separated by eight points, but there’s a lesser likelihood of this changing with the three of them having struggled to crack the top-10 in recent races. Positions 16-20 are doubtful to change, again barring any shock result.
- Fourth place: Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are locked into the top three and thus the highest position that can change here is fourth. Courtesy of outscoring Williams 25-6 in the last two Grands Prix, Force India is poised to capture fourth place, the best in the team’s history since becoming Force India in 2008, after a long time spent in the midfield and back of pack. Down 163-136, it’d take Williams outscoring Force India by 27 to usurp them, which would require Williams finishing third and fourth with Force India outside the top 10 – and that seems a highly unlikely proposition.
- Sixth place: Possible but doubtful. McLaren leads Toro Rosso here by 12 points – 75 to 63 – for P6. Unless Carlos Sainz Jr. has another heroic drive in him, which we can’t rule out, a fourth place still seems a bit difficult to fathom at this point. A combo drive of Sainz in sixth and Daniil Kvyat in seventh could also do the trick, but since both Toro Rossos have only scored in the same Grand Prix twice since May, that’s an even longer shot.
- P9-11: With Haas more or less secure in eighth on 29 points, Renault, Sauber and Manor will likely finish in that order on 8, 2 and 1 point respectively. Sauber’s ninth place with Felipe Nasr at Brazil was huge for the team from a potential cash infusion standpoint, to get ahead of Manor for P10 in points. In a dry race, seeing either team score points again is a longshot. But, stranger things have happened.