Infiniti Red Bull Racing saw their four-year Constructors Championship winning run come to an end with Mercedes securing their first title in Russia. Daniel Ricciardo once again got the better of Sebastian Vettel at Sochi, but both struggled for pace and finished seventh and eighth.
Ricciardo admitted he made a bad start to lose a few positions, something that the Australian feels he needs to work on. He felt able to match Fernando Alonso’s pace ahead of him but was unable to make a move on the Spaniard despite sitting in the Ferrari’s wheel tracks for the last few laps.
“The first few laps were pretty hectic and we lost a few places at the start,” said Ricciardo. “We will have to have a look at that, it’s nearly the end of the season now, but we haven’t had many good starts so that’s a bit frustrating.
“Starting the race the tyre was already blistered, it had quite a bit from qualifying, so it wasn’t looking too healthy and the first stint made it worse; I could see it starting to come apart, so we had to pit quiet early. Then on the prime the tyre lasted well and we had good pace and could match Alonso, but couldn’t get past.
“Congrats to Mercedes – it’s been a dominant season by them, so hats off to them.”
Team-mate Vettel made a good start but had a lonely race to eighth, once Ricciardo got by during the pit stop period. He felt the issues that affected him during qualifying also manifested themselves during the race, with the German complaining that his car felt ‘nervous’ during Saturday’s running.
“I had a good start and then a tough battle with Daniel, but from then onwards the speed was nothing special, we had the same issues as we had in qualifying,” said Vettel. “I was alone for a lot of the race, the beginning was entertaining, but after that it wasn’t that busy.
“Congratulations to Mercedes on the title, they deserve it.”
Team Principal Christian Horner congratulated Mercedes on their Constructors’ Championship triumph, but felt the race was pretty uneventful for his drivers. He was happy to see both Ricciardo and Vettel finish but was disappointed they did not have the pace on the straights to compete with the Mercedes-powered teams ahead of them.
“Firstly congratulations to Mercedes on an excellent campaign to win the Constructors’ Championship; they’ve done a stunning job this year and after four years in Milton Keynes that trophy will now move up the road to Brackley,” said Horner. “It was a fairly uneventful race for us. Tyre degradation was not really a factor; we had a concern with the option tyre with Daniel, which is why we pitted so early, but that was pretty much it.
“Dan got pretty close to Alonso at the end who looked like he was in trouble on fuel, but we just didn’t have the pace on the straights to mount a serious challenge. So both cars home, a reliable race, but it’s been a Mercedes engine dominated event.”