Daniel Ricciardo’s storming performance helped him recover from a pit-lane start and end his impressive first season at Infiniti Red Bull Racing with a fourth place finish in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel couldn’t quite match his team-mate’s heroics en route to eighth, while Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne just missed out on the points in 12th. Romain Grosjean fought back from grid and drive-through penalties to finish 13th for Lotus F1 Team, and Caterham F1 Team’s Will Stevens enjoyed a solid first Formula 1 appearance by coming home 17th.
Key race points:
Abu Dhabi’s unique late evening start time provided a stunning backdrop to the world championship decider and also threw up a variety of tyre strategies as the track cooled throughout the evening.
Starting from the pit-lane proved no hindrance to the Red Bull pair who diligently picked their way through the midfield during the opening stint on prime tyres. Ricciardo had the best of the traffic and was up to fifth when he pitted for the first time on lap 28. Another fast and consistent stint saw him running third when he stopped for the final time to switch to the option tyres with just eight laps remaining, before finishing one place higher than where he originally qualified. Vettel was also able to charge through on the same strategy but could only finish eighth despite picking off both Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg over the final 10 laps.
Red Bull’s penalties promoted Kvyat to fifth on the grid and offered an opportunity to end his Toro Rosso career with a solid points finish. But after a poor start initially dropped him to seventh, a PU-related issue ended his afternoon early. Likewise team-mate Vergne, who had looked like a top-10 candidate for much of the afternoon before ending up 12th.
Lotus F1 Team’s 20-year partnership with Renault Sport F1 came to an end in Abu Dhabi with a 13th place finish for Grosjean. The Frenchman opted to serve his drive-through penalty after just one lap and made steady progress thereafter. Pastor Maldonado was less lucky though and retired with a PU issue on lap 28.
Caterham marked their return to grand prix racing with a 17th place finish for Will Stevens, who was making his F1 debut after securing victories in Formula Renault 3.5 earlier this season. Team-mate Kamui Kobayashi failed to finish, however.
Red Bull Racing and Ricciardo had already secured second in the constructors’ and third in the drivers’ championships, respectively, ahead of the Abu Dhabi weekend, while Vettel ultimately dropped to fifth in the final standings after the double points decider swung the advantage in Valtteri Bottas’ favour.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Track Operations:
A mixed bag for us today, but we can certainly take a lot of heart from Red Bull’s fantastic fight back. Despite the team having already secured second in the constructors’ championship, Daniel and Seb again showed why they are both world-class drivers. Their results also demonstrate that, even at this late stage of the year, we haven’t stopped pushing hard.
On the other side of the coin I should apologise to Lotus and Pastor, and Toro Rosso and Daniil, for the PU problems that ended their races early. We still have much to do ahead of next season but I can confirm that we will continue to improve across all areas.
Having said that I must thank everyone at Renault Sport F1, as well as our technical partners Mecachrome and Total, for all their hard work this season. It has not been easy but together we have made huge progress and never given up.
Indeed, I know that everyone at Viry is committed to the challenge laid down this year and, on their behalf, would like to congratulate the new world champion, Lewis Hamilton, for his outstanding season with Mercedes. It’s that success which renews our own efforts to reclaim the titles in 2015.
Finally, I’d like to thank Sebastian for his dedication to the Renault family over the years. Together with Red Bull Racing he has added a new chapter to our rich Formula 1 history and I’d like to wish him all the very best for the future.