Hamilton bidding to see out the year with 11th win and other talking points ahead of Abu Dhabi GP

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After 20 races over eight grueling months, Formula One heads to Abu Dhabi for the concluding grand prix of the season.

Here, we take a look at five key talking points ahead of Sunday’s race at Yas Marina Circuit.

HAPPY HAMILTON

Lewis Hamilton was given a champion’s welcome when he returned to the Mercedes factory for the first time since sealing his record fifth championship at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The 33-year-old was greeted with a guard of honour by the 900-strong staff at the Mercedes’ headquarters in Northamptonshire following the team’s fifth successive constructors’ championship victory in Brazil.

The team’s latest success means they are now level with Ferrari on five consecutive wins with no team having ever lifted six titles.

The Briton will bid to see out the championship with his 11th win of the season in Abu Dhabi, a track where he has tasted victory on three occasions.

VETTEL PLAYS FOR PRIDE

With both the drivers and constructors championships settled, there is only pride to play for Sebastian Vettel at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.

Vettel, who led this year’s championship until round eleven in Germany, will be hoping to finish his season on a positive note in the UAE capital.

Following his sixth place finish at the most recent Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel has struggled in the second half of the season, while Hamilton has excelled.

The 31-year-old is a three-time winner at Yas Marina but has not won at the track since joining Ferrari in 2014. Could this be the year he rediscovers some of that old magic?

ALONSO’S FINAL RACE

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will bring the curtain down on his storied F1 career in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

The 37-year-old is nearing the end of his 17th season in the sport and will race in the Indy 500 next year as he attempts to secure the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

The Spaniard, a double Monaco Grand Prix winner in 2006 and 2007, won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota in June this year and is tenth in the drivers’ championship standings.

His glittering career has included 32 wins, 22 pole positions, 97 podiums and world championship triumphs in 2005 and 2006, although he has not finished on the podium since joining McLaren in 2015.

With nine top-10s this campaign, Alonso will be bidding to bow out with a formidable finish.

RICCIARDO’S LAST CHANCE

Daniel Ricciardo has emerged as one of the sport’s most likeable figures – but he has looked low on confidence since winning the Monaco Grand Prix way back in May.

At that point of the season, Mercedes and Ferrari were circling for his signature, but he ended up signing a long-term deal with Renault – a team who have not secured a podium since the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011.

There is no guarantee the Australian will slot straight into the Renault and challenge the big three, especially with his teammate Nico Hulkenberg producing some solid performances this season and unable to threaten a top four finish.

Without a podium since May, adding to his eight retirements, this could potentially be the last chance for 29-year-old Ricciardo to walk on top of the steps and celebrate a top three finish.

MORE EXCITEMENT NEEDED

Formula One’s season-ending fixture has come under criticism in recent years for its lack of action and failure to deliver an exciting race.

Despite a spectacular setting at Yas Marina, drivers have felt the track isn’t challenging enough to be the final race on the calendar.

Hamilton called for changes to be made to the 3.4-mile circuit last year while Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen labelled it ‘boring’.

The Yas Marina circuit joined the F1 calendar in 2009 and has acted as the season finale venue for every season expect 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Valtteri Bottas became the fifth different winner of the race by converting his pole position into victory last season, while Hamilton and Vettel share three wins each.

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