Daniel Ricciardo was left to rue a loss of Saturday pace and some poor Sunday luck in Abu Dhabi, the Australian finishing less than second from the points in 11th place after an unscheduled early-race pit stop.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver qualified just 15th on Saturday, struggling with front-end feeling in a session where teammate Yuki Tsunoda qualified a career-best sixth. Any hope of Ricciardo finding his way back into the top 10 was damaged by a tear-off from another driver’s visor becoming stuck in his brake ducts on lap seven, an early pit stop seeing him out of position for the rest of the evening at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Ricciardo eventually finished 0.597secs behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for the final world championship point, with AlphaTauri narrowly missing overhauling Williams for seventh place in the constructors’ championship after Tsunoda faded to eighth, Williams finishing three points ahead of the Red Bull ‘B’ team.
“I felt like one more lap, I could have got a few more points,” Ricciardo said.
“Yesterday put us on the back foot, starting so far back. We were close to Williams, but didn’t quite get it. I would have been nice if I contributed but starting 15th … it was a tough one. It wasn’t a bad race in terms of pace, but as soon as you get some dirty air … when we had the track to ourselves, I felt we were going OK.”
Ricciardo’s stop-start 2023 – he came in at AlphaTauri for the sacked Nyck De Vries in round 11 but broke his left hand in The Netherlands and missed five races – meant he finished the season with more energy than most after a gruelling 22-race campaign, and admitted to mixed feelings after competing in just seven Grands Prix in 2023.
“Part of me is happy to go on a break to prepare for a full season, but I would also like to continue racing,” he said.
“But it’s exciting to have a proper off-season now and 100 per cent know that I want to be here and want to do it.
“As experienced as I am, you can’t underestimate a pre-season and hitting the ground running. I was happy with the few races I did … I was happy with the race pace but qualifying, some were good and some I wasn’t too happy with, so still a bit to explore with one-lap pace.”
Ricciardo paid tribute to team principal Franz Tost, the 67-year-old Austrian who is stepping down from his role as team principal after this season. Tost, who has presided over the team since it debuted in F1® as Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006, was Ricciardo’s team boss in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and the 34-year-old felt his departure will leave a void.
“A shout-out as well to Franz, he’s been a big part of the team and obviously very early in my career played a big role,” Ricciardo said.
“I wish him well and I know he’ll be missed a lot in the team. Today, everyone was giving him a tribute and he was like ‘let’s go racing’, that’s all he wants to do. So hopefully he enjoys away from the track as much as he did on it.”
Daniel's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 15th
- Race: 11th
- Fastest lap: 1min 28.571secs (11th), lap 47
- Points this event: 0
- Points this season: 6 (17th in world championship)