Daniel Ricciardo scored points for the fifth time in seven races after another impressive drive for Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi. The Australian held off Michael Schumacher to finish tenth in a race which almost saw him take out championship leader Sebastian Vettel, an incident Ricciardo says he had little awareness of.
“I got a good start, although I had to avoid an accident shortly after”, he commented. “My initial pace was quite good and I could stay with Schumacher who was on the Prime, while like most people I was on the Option, but I could not get close enough to pass him. Then, in my second stint, on the Prime, I don’t feel we got up to speed quickly enough and I was struggling a bit with braking. When the second Safety Car came out, we pitted again, which was a good call – originally we had considered a one stop – took on new Options and the fresher tyre meant I had a better pace towards the end. I’m pretty happy with tenth as I was not expecting points after the early part of the race, but I never gave up and kept fighting to the end. In the final laps, Schumacher was closing in on me again, but I managed to hold him off. Vettel behind me during the Safety Car? I looked in my mirrors and saw him go through one of the polystyrene boards, but I have no idea what happened.”
Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne missed out on a points finish in twelfth and he felt the second safety car period prevented him from challenging Ricciardo in the closing stages.
“I started the race from one place behind my team-mate on the grid and finished two behind him. I am disappointed with the way this Grand Prix panned out for me. I got a good start and with some help from others having problems, I went up five places from seventeenth when the lights went out to twelfth at the end of the opening lap. The call from the pit wall to make my first tyre change earlier than planned when the first Safety Car came out was the right one. However, the second Safety Car did not play in my favour so that at the end, Daniel on fresher tyres was able to run at a faster pace. It’s good for the team that he got another point at the end of what has been a tough weekend for us.”
Team Principal Franz Tost was happy with the performances of both drivers as their consistent run continued.
“Both our drivers got a good start, making up five places each, relative to their grid positions, partly down to an accident on the opening lap. From then on, both drivers did a good job and the team’s strategy choices worked well, making the most of the Safety Car opportunities, bringing Vergne in during the first one and Ricciardo at the second. In the end, we scored a point with Daniel, who managed to get past his team mate, as he was on newer tyres for the closing stages and Jev was not that far behind at the flag. It is good to have picked up another point, as it means we have finished in the top ten in five of the last seven races. It is especially gratifying as this is something of a second home race for us, with many of our major sponsors here to watch us perform well come the end of what has been a tough weekend.”