In a race full of finals for the Renault DP World F1 Team, Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo completed his 38th and final race for the team and the team completed their fifth and final season in Formula 1 since their 2016 return under the Renault banner. It was a slightly underwhelming finish to a great season, confirming their fifth-place finish in the Constructor’s Championship before they switch to Renault’s sister sporting brand Alpine for 2021
Ricciardo crossed the line in seventh place, also taking an extra bonus point for taking the fastest lap of the race away from race winner and former team-mate Max Verstappen. Esteban Ocon would pass Lance Stroll on the final lap of the race at Turn 11 to take a ninth-place finish at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Australian started the race in eleventh position on the hard tyres and would hold the same position on the opening lap of the race. Staying out during an early Virtual Safety Car he would jump ahead of those choosing to pit, allowing him to occupy fifth place.
Ricciardo extended his stint eventually finding a pit window that would allow him to claim seventh position on the faster medium tyres, taking the fastest lap of the race in his final lap in the Renault colours, and in doing so confirming his fifth-place position in the driver’s championship.
After the race he said “Considering we started eleventh I’m really satisfied with seventh position tonight. My stint on the Hard tyres at the beginning was really strong and the car felt good the whole time. The Safety Car changed things slightly, but we couldn’t progress fast enough to catch the cars ahead.
“I know we didn’t manage to finish third in the Constructor’s Championship but, overall, it’s been a strong season for the team and compared to last year it’s a great step forward. My last lap in the car was the fastest on track and I was pushing for that.”
“It was a challenging race for us today, but I was happy with how it ended”Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon started one place ahead of team-mate Ricciardo on the medium tyres and would gain a place on the opening lap of the race. The early Virtual Safety Car, which then turned into a full safety car, allowed him to pit for hard tyres, jumping Daniil Kvyat in the process due to a quick pit stop. Ocon would finish in a respectable ninth place with an overtake on Lance Stroll on the final lap to take twelfth place in the Driver’s Championship.
“It was a challenging race for us today, but I was very happy with how it ended with the last lap overtake on Lance Stroll. We fought to the end and we can be pleased with that. We have some things to review, it wasn’t an easy first stint and we got stuck behind some cars.” said Ocon.
“Towards the end though, the car came alive and that was very fun. I think today’s race actually tells the story about our year : we didn’t start so great, but we ended it very well! We know the areas we can improve.
“A big thanks to everyone at the team and at the factories in Enstone and Viry for their hard work this season and also thanks for Daniel as my team-mate this year. I wish him the best for his next journey.”
“Today’s overall performance probably the best we could do”Cyril Abiteboul
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul had mixed emotions about the race, “Despite being strong, today’s race could not overturn an adverse championship situation and a poor qualifying yesterday. We were quick in practice and picked up the fastest lap in the race, but today’s overall performance is probably the best we could do given our starting positions. We managed to make a reverse strategy work with Daniel.
“He drove brilliantly in his first stint on Hard’s, going long and then waiting to see if a safety car could occur. It didn’t happen but he ended up gaining four positions and the fastest lap, more than any other driver. Esteban (Ocon) had a more conventional race and struggled a bit with the Mediums, but he made us very proud by overtaking (Lance) Stroll on the last lap.
“That fighting spirit, in which we failed three points in one lap, is what I want to take away from the weekend, and on which we should continue to build the team. Despite today’s effort, we finish in fifth position (in the constructor’s championship) which is disappointing given where we were only a few races ago, but there are solid foundations to build on.
“We have a number of details in the execution that need to be improved ahead of next year, while the overall car performance needs to take another step like the one we have done this year.”