After being excluded from qualifying for having an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes when he stopped on track at the end of Q3, Sebastian Vettel lines up 24th on the grid.
He has a 13-point lead and with championship rival Fernando Alonso lining up sixth, the chances of him extending that lead are minimal. But the Red Bull is pretty quick at Yas Marina, so you can guarantee that, if he keeps out of trouble, Vettel should be able to get into the mix for points.
While the situation might seem desperate, whatever happens he will be guaranteed the championship if he wins the final two races in the United States and Brazil, so don't expect Vettel to take the do-or-die approach to climbing the order.
Progress made in the first few laps could prove decisive, and if he does make it into the lower reaches of the top 10, he might find himself crossing swords with a certain Felipe Massa.
Hamilton's startline stress
Hamilton, eager for a good start © LAT
Lewis Hamilton is clear favourite for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after outpacing the rest by over three-and-a-half-tenths of a second.
But the one curve ball that could make life difficult for him is the start.
In recent races, the tendency has been for a slow getaway and he could easily find himself under attack on the run to the first corner.
Worst of all, it doesn't seem that there's anything specific he has been doing wrong off the line and he insists that the team tells him that there's nothing.
"I just got a bad start, as usual," he said after the Indian Grand Prix. "Every time, I don't understand why we get bad starts. I have asked the team to tell me what I'm doing wrong so I can fix it and they say I'm doing everything right."
If that happens again, he could face a far more difficult evening's work if he's to take his 21st grand prix win.
Battle for best of the rest
Raikkonen thinks he can challenge for victory © LAT
Assuming that Hamilton doesn't bog down at the start, it looks like the real interest will be in a close battle for second place.
Mark Webber has the initiative, starting second for Red Bull, but both Pastor Maldonado, who lines up third for Williams, and Kimi Raikkonen, in fourth, look to have the race pace to get in the mix.
Then, of course, there is Fernando Alonso, who looks fast enough to get into the mix for the podium.
While a conservative drive from sixth on the grid is pretty much certain to close the gap to Vettel in the drivers' championship, Alonso knows that he must press home the starting advantage he has been given seeing as Ferrari is still at a pace disadvantage.
Winning isn't on the cards, unless Hamilton has a disaster, but you can guarantee that he will get himself firmly in the hunt for a podium.
Will there be overtaking?
The Yas Marina circuit has a well-deserved reputation for producing processional races and with most expecting to one-stop, it's unlikely to be a race with too much passing.
Is there a processional race on the cards? © LAT
That said, there are two DRS zones and we have seen moves being made into the left-handers that follow the two back straights in the previous three runnings of this race.
The one variable that could affect a car's pace relative to the rest is the dropping temperature, although in the past two days the track temperature drop from race start to race finish time has only been around the five degrees centigrade mark at most.
Expect the first lap to be particularly fierce given that everybody knows that there's a good chance they'll be staring at the same rear wing in front of them 90 minutes later if they don't make their moves early.
The battle for 10th
It might not be the most eye-catching or glamorous battle, but the scrap for 10th in the constructors' championship will have very real financial implications for Marussia and Caterham.
Pic starts from 20th this time © LAT
Right now, Marussia has the initiative thanks to Timo Glock's 12th place in Singapore. If Caterham can match that result, it will reclaim the position that it has finished in for the past two years.
In qualifying, it took a late effort by Heikki Kovalainen to take what you might call class pole from Charles Pic and there's every chance of an equally close battle in the race.
Caterham has the advantage of KERS, but you can guarantee that the racing deep in the midfield will be just as intense, and high stakes, as it is up the sharp end.
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