Daniel Ricciardo suffered a disappointing end to season 2019 on a personal level but team-wise Renault came out happy.
After starting seventh on the grid in Abu Dhabi this morning, the Aussie F1 star slipped down to 11th and failed to add to his points tally, leaving him to end the year ninth in the drivers’ standings — a far cry from where he was used to finishing with Red Bull.
But while Ricciardo was unable to go out with a bang the main thing for Renault is it held on to a slim lead over Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship to ensure it kept its fifth place.
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Toro Rosso was just eight points behind the French outfit before the finale and ahead of the race the talk from Ricciardo and Co. was about maintaining that gap. Neither he nor teammate Nico Hulkenberg — taking part in his last race for Renault — could muster any points in the desert but fortunately for the Enstone team Daniil Kvyat only accrued two points for Toro Rosso with a ninth-placed finish.
That meant the Red Bull junior outfit stayed in sixth in the constructors’ standings on 85 points while Renault was a spot above on 91 points — still 54 points behind fourth-placed McLaren.
“It was quite a standard race for me today,” Ricciardo said. “We struggled a little on the hard tyre after the first stop, which was a shame, and at the end I tried to make up the ground on the faster tyre, but we just ran out of time.
“Although, looking at the bigger picture for us, it was a positive that we managed to secure fifth in the constructors’ championship, which was our goal coming into the weekend.
“We’re optimistic heading into the off-season and looking ahead for next season.”
Ricciardo is already looking ahead to 2020.Source:Getty Images
HULKENBERG REFLECTS ON RENAULT BREAK-UP
Hulkenberg was 12th in Abu Dhabi as he ended a three-year stint with Renault, who have replaced the German in its driver line-up with Esteban Ocon for next year.
The 10-year veteran’s future in F1 is uncertain as he faces the possibility of not being picked up by a team in 2020 but even if his journey in the sport is over, Hulkenberg is happy with how things have gone.
“I’m feeling good — kind of relieved it’s all over,” Hulkenberg said.
“I’m happy that I’ve done a good race, I’ve thrown everything at it that I could. A shame not to get that point in the end, but that one-stop was hard to pull off, and at the end, my tyres were just degrading too much and I couldn’t hang onto it.
“In hindsight going into Q3 was maybe not the best thing, having to start on the soft. The people from (P11) onwards, they had a bit of a different strategy obviously and that paid off in the end.
“But a worthy final race for me, happy and relieved to cross the line with good feelings … (and) to finish the race in style. Felt good in my performance, so that was important for me, to finish in this way.
(Now I’m) looking forward to giving everyone a cuddle in the garage and grab a beer.
“This whole Formula 1 industry, it’s very unique. But I’m happy and grateful for my time here; met amazing people, made amazing friends and memories and I’ll look back on it with a smile on my face.
“Thank you to (Renault). Three years over, good years — not fantastic years, but still it was cool, fun at times. We had highs and lows and definitely have to say thank you to them.”
Nico Hulkenberg celebrated the end of an era with Renault.Source:Getty Images
NORRIS FILTHY WITH HIMSELF
Lando Norris branded himself a “s*** driver” after slipping to eighth when Sergio Perez overtook him on the last lap.
The McLaren driver was outdone on Turn 11 as Perez made the most of his fresher tyres and Norris was upset at failing to hang on until the chequered flag.
“Going to sound like I’m pretty terrible now, but he did me round the outside, end of the back straight into Turn 11, after the GP2 pits,” Norris said.
“Yeah, I defended, went to the inside, he committed around the outside, he had much better tyres, I was a bit nervous of locking or doing something stupid, but I just wasn’t forceful enough.
“I didn’t change my mindset enough. I did the whole race being so calm and relaxed and looking after the fronts and the rears and driving slowly, and in this moment I needed to be aggressive and forceful and change how I was as a driver.
“And I didn’t do that, basically. I just kind of braked, I didn’t think, ‘He’ll be going around the outside, I need to release the brakes and give him less room’, I just was a s*** driver, basically, in my mind, because he was the one guy I had to beat today, and I didn’t.
“So, because of that I’m annoyed. But, yeah, the rest of the race was good, but it all led up to this one moment, and I failed in what I needed to do. That’s about it.”
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