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Yas men hoping for positive finale


Lewis Hamilton will be looking over his shoulder as Nico Rosberg attempts to wrestle the world title from his grasp

Lewis Hamilton will be looking over his shoulder as Nico Rosberg attempts to wrestle the world title from his grasp

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Lewis Hamilton will be looking over his shoulder as Nico Rosberg attempts to wrestle the world title from his grasp

Two for the price of one. Roll up roll up for a double-or-quits points race with the title decider thrown in. The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi will deliver us a freshly-minted 2014 world champion next weekend.

One thing we know for certain is that it will be a Mercedes driver. Will Briton Lewis Hamilton or German/Finnish Nico Rosberg reign supreme? Will the title, despite the best efforts of both drivers, be decided in the pits by a fumbling pit-crew or perhaps bad management strategy. Will it be decided by mechanical failure? Will it be decided by driver error? Will the weather play a part or maybe give us a sandstorm? Will a driver's nerves cause him to buckle? What could conspire in favour or against a particular opponent?

Well, whatever happens on or off the track, both drivers are going to need 20/20 vision in this twilight zone, as day converges into night as the cars race from lights out to chequered flag.

Pharrell Williams will be performing on Saturday night and The Who on Sunday. Which driver will be singing the Happy song and who'll be stuck humming Heaven & Hell? We'll know in seven days.

The two protagonists were karting team-mates as kids. Now they are warring adversaries who live in Monaco. Rosberg has enjoyed a gilded life on his way to the top while Hamilton's family struggled to get him there, but with Ron Dennis's backing, they made it. Rosberg leads his day-to-day life away from the limelight whereas Hamilton embraces it. Now their differences bring them to a stage where either could become world champion.

Hamilton leads by 17 points but there are 50 up for grabs. All Hamilton has to do is finish ahead of Rosberg. It sounds easy when it's put like that. If Rosberg repeats his Brazil success and bookends the season with a win in Abu Dhabi, if he's to win the title he needs Hamilton to finish third or lower. That sounds easy too.

There's every chance the two of them could shunt, which of course would suit Hamilton if they both retired. But if Hamilton came off worse, as happened in Spa when they collided and only he retired, then Rosberg would need fifth place or higher to offset the 17-point deficit.

If Rosberg comes second then Hamilton must finish sixth or lower for Rosberg to clinch the title. If he's third, Hamilton must be seventh or lower, Fourth place means Hamilton must finish ninth or lower and fifth needs Hamilton to finish tenth or lower.

Hamilton has 10 wins to Rosberg's five. Hamilton has had seven poles to Rosberg's 10 - only Felipe Massa broke the 100 per cent Mercedes pole record this season and only Daniel Ricciardo won what Mercedes didn't: three grands prix.

Hamilton only failed to convert one of those seven poles into a win and that was in the first race in Australia when he retired with engine failure. Rosberg only converted three of his 10 poles into wins. Rosberg has had 10 second places to Hamilton's two. Hamilton, whenever he has finished, has never been off the podium. Rosberg won the last race and he also won the trophy for the most pole positions.

Hamilton had a run of four consecutive wins in the first half of the season and five in the second. No driver with four consecutive races has failed to go on to take the title. However, that was when they worked off a normal points system. All bets are off now. Both drivers will have their respective families supporting them. Rosberg's new wife Vivian Sibold will be cheering from the pits. In line with Hamilton's focus it remains to be seen if his X-Factor girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger will attend the race. She might have to play the role of silent mentor from afar, or maybe she'll sneak in wearing a burka.

The complex is a unique venue for a unique showdown. The former chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit, Kildare man Richard Cregan, who now overseas the Russian GP at Sochi, has done a fantastic job during his five-year tenure to make this circuit the most advanced F1 facility in the world. The place is pristine and polished. As in Singapore, a lot of money has been spent to satiate a hunger for all things automotive. The budget was in excess of $1.4bn for the whole shooting gallery that is Yas Marina island, which includes 26 restaurants and seven hotels.

You could never be bored there. If you're frustrated because you can't drive a racing car at 240 kmh, you can always head over to Ferrari World and take a rollercoaster at the same speed. Or play on the 18-hole championship course. Or charter a yacht. Or relax on a four-poster day bed on the beach or spend the afternoon at Waterworld. Whatever the question, the answer is Yas.

For some purists the place is a bit too Disneyworld to be taken seriously as an altar to F1. It's a world away from, say, Silverstone with its rich heritage, but in terms of facilities and bang-for-your buck entertainment, it is one of the best. You won't find any drunken louts here because it's not tolerated, in fact you need a licence to drink.

You have to hand it to Finbar O'Connell of Smith & Williamson and joint administrator for Caterham Sports for the novel way he's trying to get the team back onto the grid at Abu Dhabi. Using Crowdcube he's aiming to raise the cash through crowdfunding. So far they've reached over half their £2,350,000 target. There's even talk of former Status GP pilot, Alice Powell, whose grandfather Jim Fraser hails from Limerick, paying to drive in unofficial practice. She'd need a superlicence first and although everyone would be thrilled to see Alice make her F1 debut, the rushed way this is all happening, the differential in GP3 and F1 speeds and the fact that she hasn't raced competitively for a while should ring alarm bells. She needs a safe passage into F1 and this isn't necessarily an ideal way to go about it.

Next weekend, as support race in Abu Dhabi, Status GP competes in the last event of the GP3 season. It's been a mixed bag with some high points that included three wins. The team currently lies third in the championship. Richie Stanaway and Nick Yelloly have a good chance and a victory for either or both - there's a race on the Saturday and Sunday - would be a fitting way to bow out.

Finally, in Macau today, Status GP principal Teddy Yip Jnr is once again supporting three leading F3 drivers under his father's iconic Theodore Racing brand. Last year the race was won by Theodore-backed Alex Lynn, who is also set to wrap up the GP3 title in Abu Dhabi with Carlin motorsport.

Macau has long been a prestigious and significant race to win for any driver with F1 ambitions. The leading hotel and Casino chain in Macau, SJM, are sponsoring all three cars. You can't move in the peninsula without seeing Theodore cars on posters and hoardings. To witness the might of a company with a cash balance of €2bn is something to behold. They are the biggest show in town and, by association we are too. On now to Abu Dhabi, its polar opposite, where gambling is illegal.

Let's see if either Rosberg or Hamilton risk everything in pursuit of a world title. Hamilton has the edge in wins and, more crucially, in wheel-to-wheel combat. Still, fortune may favour Rosberg depending what side of the bed she gets out of on the day.

In 2011, Hamilton started second on the grid and won the race. In 2009, he had pole but retired with brake failure. In 2012, he had pole but retired with fuel pressure problems. There's a bit of a pattern emerging there. The race kicks off at 1.0pm; you cannot miss it, or indeed the battle for qualifying on the Saturday.

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