‘Standard Race’ for Ricciardo in Abu Dhabi as Hülkenberg Says Goodbye to Renault

by Paul Hensby

Daniel Ricciardo reflected on what he felt was a ‘standard’ Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Australian missing out on points at the Yas Marina Circuit in eleventh.

The Renault F1 Team racer had gone into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with eyes on a top ten finish after starting inside the points-paying positions, but the lack of the Drag Reduction System in the early stages coupled with the choice of starting tyre made for a difficult evening in the desert.

He attempted to break back into the top ten late in the day but a charging Carlos Sainz Jr. denied him the chance, and he finished just outside the points in eleventh.

“It was quite a standard race for me today,” said Ricciardo on Sunday.  “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’s opening season with Renault saw him end up ninth in the Drivers’ Championship on fifty-four points.

Daniel Ricciardo missed out on points in Abu Dhabi, finishing eleventh – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Hülkenberg Misses Top Ten on Renault Swansong

Team-mate Nico Hülkenberg was on course for a top ten finish of his own in what was his final race outing with Renault before Esteban Ocon takes over for 2020, but a final lap pass by Sainz denied him this opportunity. 

The German was also passed by Ricciardo as a result of Sainz’s move, and he ended his three-year stint at the French team with a twelfth-place finish.

“We threw everything at it today and it was a shame not to score any points,” said Hülkenberg.  “The one-stop strategy was hard to pull off and my tyres were degrading too much at the end.

“Still, we had positive race pace and were very much in the fight until the end. It was a worthy final race for me with the team. I crossed the line with good feelings.

“It’s been three good years with them and we’ve grown very close like a family. I’m grateful and thankful towards them for all the highs and lows we’ve had together and I wish them every success for the future.”

Hülkenberg’s final season with Renault ended up with him down in fourteenth place in the Drivers’ Championship with thirty-seven points.

Nico Hülkenberg ended his time with Renault with a twelfth-place finish – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Abiteboul Critical of Starting Tyre Rules as Renault End 2019 Fifth

Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul was pleased that Renault were able to end the season fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, but he lambasted once again the regulations that dictate that drivers inside the top ten must start on the tyres they ran during Q2 on Saturday afternoons.

Abiteboul felt Renault were penalised by being forced to start on the soft Pirelli tyre after Qualifying inside the top ten and coupled with the Drag Reduction System not working for the opening eighteen laps due to a technical issue at the FIA, this hindered Renault badly.

“Today was on the one hand a race like 20 others in the season, but on the other a race where we had the imperative objective to secure a championship position and we did it,” said Abiteboul.

“Having said that, it was an exasperating race and we saw the current rules of starting on the qualifying tyre again penalising teams from P7 to P10. This was aggravated by being blocked behind McLaren and DRS not working due to an FIA technicality, meaning we were in dirty air at a critical part of the race, effectively another penalty.

“Nevertheless there were a couple of good moments with nice overtaking manoeuvres but they didn’t materialise into points, which is a disappointment, in particular for Nico. He’s been important to the team and our progress.

“I’d like to thank him, Daniel and the entire team at Enstone and Viry for their contribution and hard work over this tough season; let’s look to build on it and better it in 2020.”

Renault were hampered by starting on the tyres they used in Q2, according to Cyril Abiteboul – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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