Renault F1 Team came away from a tight Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix empty-handed, however, maintained fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship.
On his final start for the team, Nico Hülkenberg finished outside of the points in twelfth, narrowly behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who passed Nico on fresher tyres on the final lap.
Daniel made a strong start from seventh on the grid, jostling with both McLarens on the opening lap. He was caught in the pack after an early pit stop, but climbed back through the field with a late second stop for Soft tyres where he passed Nico to finish outside the points in eleventh.
Nico made the most of a good start and strong first stint to get ahead of his team-mate and Carlos Sainz and was hunting down the sister McLaren. However, with Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez on the reverse strategy with a long first stint, Nico was overtaken in the closing stages of the race. On the final lap, Sainz also found a way past, which left the door open for Daniel to sneak by.
Over the 2019 season, Nico and Daniel scored 91 points with Daniel ending ninth (54 points) and Nico fourteenth (37 points) in the Drivers’ Championship.
Nico Hülkenberg, started P9, finished P12:
“We threw everything at it today and it was a shame not to score any points. 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.”
Daniel Ricciardo, started P7, finished P11:
“It was quite a standard race for me today. 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.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal:
“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. 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.”