Daniel Ricciardo has enjoyed a solid finish to the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Championship season with seventh place in overnight's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Having started the race outside the points in 11th place, Ricciardo and Renault delivered a solid race strategy, which allowed the 31-year-old to make up positions early on during the virtual safety car period.
From there, Ricciardo had track position, pitted later than everyone else in the first stint and performed well for the rest of the race and while he couldn’t hold off McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz for a top five placing, he still came
away with a deserving P7.
Making the result even better for the West Australian was clinching the race’s fastest lap on his final attempt around the Yas Marina circuit and getting the extra bonus point.
It was a fantastic way to finish his two-year stint driving for Renault with Riccardo ending the season in fifth place on the Drivers’ Championship standings.
“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,” Riccardo said.
“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 Constructors’ 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 hard for that.
“Merci beaucoup to the team for an awesome two years!”
As a result of his second fastest lap of the year, Riccardo ruined former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen’s opportunity of securing the rare Grand Prix ‘Grand Slam’.
Verstappen had gained pole, led the race from lights out to the chequered flag and had posted the fastest lap when he crossed the line– only for Ricciardo to better it when he finished his race.
Despite not claiming the prestigious feat, it was still a clinical performance from the Dutchman, who proved too strong in the final race of the year and comfortably disposed of Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton – the former returning
to action after missing last week due to COVID-19.
"We will definitely go into the winter with a good feeling," Verstappen said.
"It's always nice to win the last race, especially after a year like this when it's been very tough."
Ricciardo will now join Norris at McLaren for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, which begins at the Australian Grand Prix on 21 March.