Despite once more finishing outside the points, Williams' driver Rubens Barrichello could be pleased with a solid performance and an encouraging drive from last place on the grid in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Barrichello began from 24th and last position after failing to set a time in qualifying at the Yas Marina circuit, but was up to twelfth place by the end of the penultimate race of the F1 2011 season. The Brazilian made a two-stop strategy, starting on the prime tyres, and finished ahead of both Lotus Renaults and Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso.

"It was a very good race, and a well considered one by the team," the veteran reported, "We started from the back, but I fought all the way through and we almost ended up fighting for points. We did well to finish where we did today."

It came at an important time for the Brazilian, with speculation about his future rife. The most experienced man on the grid is said to be on his way out of F1 at the end of the year, and a strong race today will have done his employment prospects for next year no harm.

Team-mate Pastor Maldonado had an eventful afternoon with a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags hampering his progress, but he still managed to finish 14th, although was left rueing his penalty.

"Our pace was a bit slow at the beginning of the race but improved when we switched onto the soft tyre," the Venezuelan explained, "Unfortunately, my drive-through penalty cost us a lot of time and potentially a better result. Our overall pace was better than it has been recently and I was happy with the car today."

The performance, if not the result, will come as an important boost at a difficult time for Williams, with just one race to go in the F1 2011 season before some important decisions about their future direction will need to be made.

by Philip Barclay