2016 Abu Dhabi GP preview: Showdown at sundown between Rosberg and Hamilton

Ahead of the title-deciding showdown between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton this weekend, here is the guide to everything you need to know, including the title permutations.

2016 Abu Dhabi GP preview: Showdown at sundown between Rosberg and Hamilton
In the rematch to 2014, Nico Rosberg goes into the finale with a 12 point lead over Lewis Hamilton. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)

After 1,213 laps, two collisions, two ERS failures,  dodgy starts, conspiracy theories and a potentally title-deciding engine blow-up, it all comes down to this.

55 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit will be the final judge. The prize for the winner is the Formula One World Drivers Championship. For the second time as team-mates it's a final race showdown between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Heading into the decider, the German holds a 12 point advantage, and is favourite to claim a maiden World Crown, and become the 33rd driver to be crowned as World Champion.

It is a role reversal of the 2014 showdown in Abu Dhabi, when Hamilton held a 17 point advantage, and overcame the threat of double-points to see off Rosberg and claim a second title.

Hamilton must finish on the podium to have any chance of taking a fourth crown, whilst his 'One race at a time' mantra has carried Rosberg to within touching distance of the summit. The mindset both drivers take into the race will be key.

The reigning champion has, in effect, nothing to lose and can take more risks than his team-mate. Rosberg can't afford to ease off, as fate usually has a part to play. It is better for Rosberg to go out for the win, as he has said he will aim to do, and try his best.

In all the final race showdowns in F1 history, only on a handful of occassions, most memorably 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2010 has the driver leading the title race, not gone on to win the crown. Fate is definitely on the side of Rosberg.

Elsewhere, Formula One says goodbye to two of its old guard this weekend. Felipe Massa ​had already confirmed his retirement, and will finish on 250 race starts, whilst Jenson Button all but confirmed that this will be his 308th and final start in F1, despite ​McLaren ​having an option on him to race in 2018.

Speaking in the press conference, Button said: "I go into this weekend thinking it will be my last race. At this moment in time, I don't want to be racing in Formula One next season."

Changing of the guard is always an emotional time, as legends and fan favourites depart for pastures new, but the loss of 558 Grand Prix worth of experience in Massa and Button will be tough for the sport.

Jenson Button will end his career with 308 starts, equal second with Michael Schumacher. (Image Credit: Formula One)
Jenson Button will end his career with 308 starts, equal second with Michael Schumacher. (Image Credit: Formula One)

Form Guide

Daniel Ricciardo  has stated his belief that Red Bull ​will be able to carry a greater threat to the Mercedes this weekend, something Hamilton will be praying for as that is his best chance of securing the title.

Ferrari ​will be hoping to end thier mini Annus Horriblis on a postive note and lay good foundations for 2017, with both ​Sebastian Vettel and ​Kimi Raikkonen ​having won in Abu Dhabi in the past, although a repeat will probably be out of their ability this weekend.

Force India are all set to secure their best ever finish in the constructors', fourth place, barring a minor miracle from ​Williams, ​who are 27 points behind in fifth.

The only other major battle in the constructors is over the crucial 10th place. The two points that Sauber picked up in Brazil meant they leap-frogged ​Manor ​into P10, and the benefits which go with it. The British based squad will be hoping that they can move back ahead of their Swiss rivals, and pick up an extra $30 million prize money in the process.

Title Permutations

Put simply, if Rosberg finishes on the podium, he will be World Champion, regardless of what Hamilton does, whilst the Brit can't win the title without finishing in the top three himself. For Hamilton to become the fifth driver to win four or more titles, he must hope Rosberg is fourth or lower, whilst he claims a 53rd career win.

The table below makes things a lot clearer.

Title Permuations
If Rosberg finishes Hamilton must be
1st Can't be champion
2nd Can't be champion
3rd Can't be champion
4th 1st
5th 1st
6th 1st
7th 2nd
8th 2nd
9th 3rd
10th 3rd

Where will I see some overtakes?

The end of the two DRS zones, at Turns 8 and 11 mark the optimal overtaking opportunities, with both corners located at the end of long straights. The turn 5/6/7 complex. culminating in the hairpin is also a good spot to see a move, with a lunge up the inside not too uncommon. Elsewhere, the track is narrow and has a single line, meaning overtaking is an art that needs to be mastered.

What tyres are Pirelli bringing?

Pirelli have opted to bring the softest available compounds to Abu Dhabi, with the UltraSoft, SuperSoft and Soft tyres on duty this weekend. The two Mercedes drivers have the exact same number of compounds, seven UltraSofts, two SuperSofts and four sets of the Soft tyre available to use. As ever, the Intermediate and Wet tyres will be taken to Abu Dhabi.

Will it rain? 

On so many occassions, the wet stuff has thrown a spanner into many works in title deciders, but a freak of nature aside, there will be no rain this weekend to disrupt running. As the sun goes down, expect the tyres to behave differently, owing to the lower temparatures.

When is it on?

Owing to the fact the race is run at twilight, the schedule is to be run to the familiar European timings, with FP1 underway at 09:00am on Friday morning and Qualifying and the race underway at 13:00pm on Saturday and Sunday respectivly.

As ever, ​Sky Sports F1 ​will have live coverage of every session, as will ​Channel 4 ​for freeview viewers. The former will also be showing live coverage of the title deciders in GP2 and GP3.

First Practice - Friday - 09:00am - 10:30am

Second Practice - Friday - 13:00pm - 14:30pm

Third Practice - Saturday - 10:00am - 11:00am

Qualifying - Saturday - 13:00pm - 14:00pm

Race - the 55 laps of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix get underway at 13:00pm on Sunday afternoon.

All times UK.