Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

Title Chase is Over, But Vettel Has F1 Records in Sight at Abu Dhabi

Last week in India, Sebastian Vettel wrapped up another world driving championship, which was totally expected. With that, Vettel has joined an exclusive club, and now he can scale new heights as he continues to circulate among the all-time greats. On Sunday he will be seeking his seventh straight Formula One victory as he competes in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit.

Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team have dominated the sport for years; the team itself won its fourth straight Constructors title as well last week. But there is no “cruising” to the end of the season; there is too much money at stake for that to happen, as teams like Vettel’s spend well into the nine figures on their racing operations. So you will see an honest effort by both Vettel and colleague Mark Webber to capture the checkered flag.

In the Formula One betting odds that have been posted at Bet365, Vettel is the overwhelming favorite to win:

Sebastian Vettel -333
Mark Webber +400
Lewis Hamilton +1400
Romain Grosjean +1600
Kimi Raikkonen +2200
Nico Rosberg +4000
Fernando Alonso +4000
Felipe Massa +25000
Jenson Button +25000
Sergio Perez +50000
Paul di Resta +100000
Daniel Ricciardo +100000
Nico Hulkenberg +150000
Adrian Sutil +150000
Jean-Eric Vergne +200000
Esteban Gutierrez +200000
Pastor Maldonado +250000
Valtteri Bottas +250000
Giedo van der Garde +500000
Max Chilton +500000
Charles Pic +500000
Jules Bianchi +500000

If you are watching this on television (check your local listings), you may think you’re seeing something unusual, and you will be. Not only is the course part of a breathtaking locale, but it is also run counter-clockwise. Don’t adjust your set. It is one of the few places you’ll see that. And the drivers will be starting in daylight, but completing the 55 laps under the lights.

Vettel, who joined Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win the championship four years running, is not the defending champion in this event, and even though he won the race in 2009 and 2010, he also suffered the “agony of defeat” on this course as he had to retire from the race in 2011.

Kimi Raikkonen (+2200 to win at Bet365) captured the Abu Dhabi title a year ago, and there was a certain level of significance to it as well. Not only did he manage to win when starting behind the front row (not a frequent occurrence in F1), he also brought Lotus into the winner’s circle for the first time since way back in 1987. Raikkonen, as many F1 bettors can recall, left the Grand Prix circuit after the 2009 season; one where he was, at $51 million, the highest-paid driver in the business, to race in the World Rally Championship. The 2012 Abu Dhabi win was his first in three years.

However, last year’s Abu Dhabi event was also a triumph of sorts for Vettel, in that he had to start at the back of the grid due to rules violations during the qualifying phase, yet came on strong to finish third. They just can’t seem to keep him off the podium.

And lately he has been right at the top of that podium. Alberto Ascari of Italy holds the all-time Formula One record for consecutive races won, with nine, spanning the 1952 and 1953 seasons. But Vettel has a chance to equal the so-called “modern” record this weekend; it is a mark currently held by the legendary Schumacher, who captured seven straight wins for Ferrari in the 2004 campaign, and Jim Clark, who did it in 1965.

Lewis Hamilton (+1400 in the F1 odds at Bet365) won last year’s pole, but in the brief history of this particular event (only four races), only one driver has won from the pole. As Formula One standards go, that makes this pretty competitive.

What do we mean? Well, Vettel has won ten races this year; no one else has more than two. And victories in these races (16 of them thus far) have been restricted to just four teams – Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus. There are drivers who have labored for quite a while without even scoring a point (for a finish from 1-10) in the F1 series. In fact, nobody with the Caterham or Marussia teams has done it in their three Formula One seasons. And it’s very tough in a driver’s first year; in fact, Esteban Gutierrez (+250 to score points in this race in F1 betting) is the only rookie to do that this year, for the Sauber team. Considering that scoring points constitutes the substance of some Formula One props, this carries some significance for sports bettors.

There are some other interesting “sporting” propositions at Bet365. Raikkonen, for example, is priced at +200 to lead this race on ANY lap; Mercedes is +1000 to have the winning car; Toro Rosso, which is Red Bull’s “farm team” *(for the uninitiated, that means “red bull” in Italian) is favored to be the first team to have a driver retire from the race, along with Force India. Vettel is even money to have the fastest lap of the race, and he indeed holds the record for the fastest lap ever at Abu Dhabi, clocking at a minute 40.279 seconds in 2009. His teammate, Webber, is -250 to reach the podium (which happens with a top three finish).

Check out all the Formula One odds and props at Bet365!

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