Sport Motorsport F1: Renault has work to do, after Daniel Ricciardo finishes ninth in Drivers Championship
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F1: Renault has work to do, after Daniel Ricciardo finishes ninth in Drivers Championship

Daniel Ricciardo farewells teammate Nico Hulkenberg in style with a blonde wig. Photo: AAP
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Daniel Ricciardo has finished his first formula one season with Renault in ninth position overall after an 11th-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

World champion Lewis Hamilton took his 11th victory of another dominant season, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finishing second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third at the season finale.

It was an emotional weekend for Ricciardo’s Renault team, with his teammate Nico Hulkenberg finishing 12th in his last outing for the French team he has helped revitalise.

Ricciardo started from seventh on the grid, jostling with both McLarens on the opening lap. After an early pit stop, he was forced to bide his time until climbing back through the field with a late second stop for soft tyres which saw him faster than others at the end.

Switching from Red Bull this season on a big-money contract, the Australian scored 54 points in the Drivers’ Championship.

“It was quite a standard race for me today,” Ricciardo said in a team statement.

“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.”

Renault’s team principal Cyril Abiteboul conceded that Renault still had work to do to reach the goals it has set itself.

“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,” he said.

“Having said that, it was an exasperating race.

“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.”

Up front Hamilton conceded he did not expect to win the race so easily, having been five seconds ahead of Verstappen within ten laps.

“I wasn’t expecting to have the pace advantage to that extent,” Hamilton said.

“I do wish we had some battles,” Hamilton said to Verstappen, alongside him in the post-race conference.

“You could have slowed down,” Verstappen joked, after his ninth podium finish of the season saw him consolidate third in the standings on 278 points to be behind the Mercedes pair of Hamilton (413) and Valtteri Bottas (326).

Ferrari’s Leclerc (264) and Vettel (240) made up the top five.

Hamilton is now just seven wins behind seven-time champion Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 and could overtake the F1 great next season.

After clinching a record-extending 88th career pole position, Hamilton won on the Yas Marina circuit for the fifth time in his career- four with Mercedes and once when driving for McLaren in 2011.

-with AAP