F1 preview: Abu Dhabi run-through as Verstappen and Hamilton go head-to-head
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Former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has delivered a typically blunt response when quizzed on his impending farewell from the sport in Abu Dhabi. The 42-year-old will make way from his Alfa Romero seat at the end of the season after what will be his 349th Formula 1 start.
Raikkonen and Alfa Romeo have broadly struggled for pace this season, competing with the likes of Williams and Haas towards the back of the pack.
Last time out, the Finn’s team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi claimed an impressive ninth-place in Saudi Arabia, while Raikkonen himself limped home as the last of the finishers.
Alfa will undergo a complete driver change ahead of next season, with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen to make way for Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou.
And after 19 seasons in the sport, Abu Dhabi will play host to Raikkonen’s final race – not that he was feeling particularly philosophical about it during Thursday’s press conference.
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“I’m looking forward to when it’s done,” he drily claimed.
“I have zero plans and I don’t think about anything. If there is an interesting proposal, we’ll see.”
Raikkonen’s solitary world championship came in 2007, beating Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by a single point in one of the most dramatic final races in recent memory.
Another of those is set to arrive this coming weekend, although the F1 veteran admits to being broadly indifferent when it comes to who wins.
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After an action-packed weekend of racing in Jeddah, the pair sit level on points going into the final contest.
Hamilton carries the momentum given his run of three successive victories, but Verstappen has not gone down without a fight, and more of the same is expected on Sunday.
Thanks to a haul of nine race wins for the season over Hamilton’s eight, the Dutchman would be handed the title if neither car manages to finish.
After what many deemed to be dirty tactics in Saudi Arabia, that has prompted concern surrounding the possibility of the Brit being rammed off track in Abu Dhabi.
Naturally, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was quick to dismiss such talk.
“We’ve already had numerous discussions about it. To finish first, first you’ve got to finish,” he told The Times.
“That’s been our mantra throughout this season.
“Remember, it wasn’t Max who crashed into Lewis at Silverstone. The stewards found Lewis guilty of driving into Max. They’ve both had their moments this year.”
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