One race left. 12 points the difference between world championship leader Nico Rosberg and team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The title race has gone right down to the wire as we head to Abu Dhabi, but who will come out on top?
Will it be a maiden title for Rosberg or will Hamilton do the unthinkable and claim a fourth championship crown? We do not have long to wait now to find out the answer.
Ahead of the last round, Betsafe and Planet F1 have linked up for the final time this season to bring you the latest comprehensive guide before the curtain falls on the 2016 season.
Bonkers in Brazil
From farce to fantastic, the Brazilian Grand Prix was a real rollercoaster of emotions last weekend. Overly-cautious stewards brought frustration, Felipe Massa brought a tear to the eye and third-placed Max Verstappen brought the excitement. Amid all the chaos, the two Mercedes drivers kept their cool for yet another one-two with Hamilton closing the cap once again.
Eyebrows were already being raised when the decision to delay the start of the race by ten minutes was made, only to then start behind the safety car and rob the spectators of what would have been a fascinating dash down to the Senna ‘S’.
When the safety car came in for the first time after seven laps, an eager Max Verstappen caught Kimi Raikkonen napping at the first corner and pulled off a bold overtake to take third position and set his sights on Rosberg and Hamilton out in front.
Rosberg has a tendency to hesitate when the rain flitters down, but after initially looking vulnerable he soon got to grips with the very challenging conditions.
A few teams made the incredibly gutsy call to switch to intermediates when the race proper got underway. However, there was far too much standing water on track to justify the early decision to change tyres.
After Sebastian Vettel suffered a terrifying spin on lap 11 which saw him face oncoming traffic head on, Marcus Ericcson went spinning into the wall before blocking the entrance to the pit lane.
The crash prompted the reintroduction of the safety car, but Verstappen was able to sneak into the pits before the stewards declared it out of bounds while the car and debris was removed. Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo tried to do the same, but he was too late and was given a five-second timed penalty as a result.
Mere seconds after the safety car came in, Kimi Raikkonen crashed out in spectacular style and had everyone watching through their fingers as two huge collisions were narrowly avoided.
That crash brought the first red flag of the afternoon and after a 30-minute delay, the race looked set to get back underway. However, the stewards deemed conditions too unsafe to race and the red flag was waved again, prompting boos and whistles from the passionate crowd.
20 long minutes later, it was time to tune into the ‘Verstappen Show’. He gobbled up Rosberg on the outside of Turn three to move up into the second and then performed the save of the century when catching the spin just before colliding with the wall up the hill to the start/finish straight.
The decision to swap his wet tyres for intermediates again would prevent him from attacking any further. However, the recovery mission he launched when he reverted to wets was an absolute joy to watch.
When Massa crashed out and took the emotional walk back to the pits (where he was given a guard of honour) in his last home race before retirement, the safety car allowed Verstappen to take his medicine via a free pit-stop.
From all the way down in 14th and fewer than 20 laps remaining, the young Dutchman proceeded to create his own race track and flew back up to take the final podium spot with a variety of stunning overtakes. His performance had ‘future world champion’ written all over it.
But, at the head of the pack was an uber-cool Hamilton coasting to his first-ever win in Interlagos, setting a new record in the process by emerging victorious at a 24th different track.
Rosberg would have been more than happy with his second place, especially after seeing the world championship flash before his eyes when half-spinning out in the dying stages, and now we potentially have a grandstand finish on our hands in Abu Dhabi.
What to expect in Abu Dhabi
What we will see first and foremost is a cautious drive from Rosberg. Only a quick glance at the permutations is needed to know that the German does not need to take any big risks to get his hands on the world title.
Rosberg can finish anywhere on the podium, regardless of Hamilton’s performance, safe in the knowledge that it would be enough to win the championship. If that does not make him feel secure heading into the final weekend then nothing will.
All Hamilton can do is keep hunting, apply pressure and hope that it forces Rosberg into a disastrous mistake. Irrespective of where the Brit finishes, he can hold his head high after what has arguably been the most difficult season he has had with the mountain of reliability issues.
After Verstappen’s heroics in Brazil it would be completely natural to think he has a good chance of making a statement for 2017, but the two long straights at the Yas Marina circuit will play right into the hands of Mercedes.
Yas Marina circuit
The 5.5km purpose-built track features one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar, which is offset by a number of highly technical corners to ensure that precision will be key over the final race weekend of the season.
There a whopping 21 corners to negotiate and with a series of harsh braking zones, these factors combine to bring the general lap speed to 193km/h that is just below the season average.
After flicking left at T1, the next three corners are attacked flat-out before the tight cluster of T5, T6 and T7 sees the cars slow all the way down to 65 km/h. Then comes the long straight and one of the best areas for overtaking as the drivers make the 1.2km dash down to T8 and reach up to soaring speeds of 335 km/h.
The car then comes to grinding halt again through T8 and T9, before another long straight down to T11 presents another fantastic overtaking opportunity.
We then build up to one of the most impressive sights of the year when the cars go through T15-T19 and pass under the stunning arch of the Yas Viceroy hotel.
The lap concludes with a double right-hander back onto the pit straight.
Previous winners and track suitability
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a new-born baby compared to some of the big daddies on the F1 calendar. It hosted its first race in 2009 and this year will be the sixth time that the Yas Marina circuit has brought an end to the season.
There have been just four different winners in Abu Dhabi and all of them will be lining up on the grid this year, too. Top of the pile, though, is three-time winner Vettel.
The German won the inaugural race in 2009 and followed up with two more victories in 2010 and 2013 where he just so happened to win two of his four world championships.
It may have been four career wins for Vettel, but an early puncture after being on pole in 2011 dashed all hope of victory. Hamilton would emerge victorious for the first time here and added to his tally three years later for Mercedes.
Team-mate Rosberg won last year and completing the winners’ list is Raikkonen, who grabbed victory back in his Lotus-Renault days.
Putting a car together that works well in low speed corners and is also good in the long straights will ensure that the 2016 season will finish on a high note.
About Mark Scott
Mark Scott is a contributor for PlanetF1, the definitive site for Formula One news, features, galleries and live coverage.