- Round 17 and final race of season takes place this weekend in the UAE for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton returns to claim seventh crown, after Briton returns negative Covid-19 test
- Max Verstappen could yet finish second in standings, as Valtteri Bottas holds 16-point runner-up advantage
ABU DHABI, UAE – As Formula 1 arrives in the UAE for the final weekend of the 2020 season, Lewis Hamilton is set to return at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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Curtain falls on unprecedented season
A little over five months after the first race of the season was held in Austria, this weekend, the UAE closes out the 2020 Formula 1 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
As Yas Marina holds the traditional finale in the desert for the seventh time, to simply get to this year’s edition has been little short of a remarkable effort.
Since Covid-19 sent the F1 calendar into a tailspin back in March, to have completed 17 races is a phenomenal effort from all involved.
A season that has been a nostalgic jaunt down the years around the likes of Nurburgring and Imola, Sunday’s finale will be looked upon in reverent fashion.
Hamilton given all clear
A finale, which after much uncertainty, will take place with Lewis Hamilton on the grid.
Having missed the second weekend in Sakhir last weekend after testing positive for Covid-19, the seven-time champion has seemingly won his latest race – this time with his own immune system.
As a groggy Hamilton had posted on Twitter only on Tuesday, his Abu Dhabi GP looked in considerable doubt.
Returning a negative result on Wednesday however, the 35-year-old will now be able to race at Yas Marina, on a circuit that has officially crowned him champion for the last three years on the bounce.
That will of course mean George Russell will not get a shot at redemption in the desert, after being denied a dream win in Sakhir, as the 24-year-old returns to race for Williams.
Hamilton meanwhile, after another season of sheer dominance – including breaking too many records to name – deserves his chance to bask in his record-equalling feat of seven F1 titles, which, it appears, he will now be able to at least attempt to revel in this weekend following his recovery.
Mazepin on early tightrope
As Haas F1 look to end a difficult season on the right note, the early beginnings of a hopeful new era have already been tainted.
After announcing last week that Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will form their new driver line-up in 2021, the Team have already been forced to discipline the latter, following what the Russian himself described apologetically, as ‘inappropriate behaviour’.
Having posted a story on Instagram involving an exchange with a woman – where his hand touched the female’s chest – the post was swiftly deleted, but spiralled social media nevertheless.
Haas condemned the post and are thought to have disciplined the 21-year-old Russian internally, who earlier this week stated he was sorry was the ‘offence’ caused.
Quoted by BBC Sport, the Russian realised his error of judgement, adding he would learn from the incident.
“I am sorry for the offence I’ve caused and the embarrassment I have brought to the Haas team. I’ve let myself and many people down.
I have to hold myself to a higher standard. I will learn from this.”
Verstappen hoping to pip Bottas
With the final race of the season upon us, the picture for placings behind Hamilton remains hazy.
The main question to be resolved this weekend is who will finish runner-up behind the Briton.
16 points separate Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas in the standings and the equation for the Dutchman to leapfrog the Mercedes driver could get complicated.
Simply put; if Bottas wins, the Finn cannot be caught.
But, if Verstappen wins, Bottas must finish in the top five and claim the ten points at least, that will give the Silver Arrows the one-two placing.
Should Bottas finish outside of the points, Verstappen would need to come home second in Abu Dhabi.
In terms of the constructors’ championship, just 18 points divide Racing Point, McLaren and Renault into the final weekend.
With a possible 43 points up for grabs, third spot appears to favour a British manufacturer, as Perez – in what could be his final race in F1 – will still be hoping to push the argument of inclusion next term in his favour.
However, with a fast-finishing Renault in the form of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, the lucrative battle for up to $10m could go to the wire also.
It seems the Abu Dhabi GP, is set to end the season on a fitting high.
The 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Yas Marina Circuit.
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