After making the top-ten shootout during qualifying, Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo had high hopes of a points finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but was left to rue a lack of pace that eventually saw him finish a frustrated sixteenth.

The Red Bull-bound Aussie had a poor getaway from ninth on the grid, leaving him mired in early midfield scraps from which he never truly recovered.

After the race he confessed to frustration at his car's lack of race pace relative to the team's rivals.

"This was not at all the race I was hoping for," he said. "In this sport, if the start doesn't go well, it's hard to recover, so I want to look at the data to understand what happened. The car didn't get off the line well and then, at turn one there was a bit of chaos as I dropped back into the group behind me. I had to run wide to avoid some accidents and from then on, my race was pretty much over.

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"At the moment, our pace is not sufficient to fight back into the top ten if something like this happens. We must see what we can do to have better starts, because when we get good ones, we have generally gone on to score points."

Ricciardo's team mate Jean-Eric Vergne fared even worse, with a strategic gamble on a one-stop strategy not paying off at the Yas Marina Circuit, and he finished one place lower in seventeenth.

"This is a very disappointing result," he said. "To sum it up, going for a one stop strategy was the right decision, but we made the change from Soft to Medium a little bit too early, so there was no life in the tyres towards the end, just as all that group of cars came up behind me. The original plan was for a two stop, but looking at how the race was developing, we decided to take this gamble, but it didn't pay off. I tried all I could to keep the tyres alive, but it was not enough.

"(It's) A shame, as I was in the points for most of the race, especially as the car felt good and I was running at a strong pace. It seems that luck is just not on my side this season, as it's not the first time I've been having a good race until circumstances have worked against me."

The 23-year-old was briefly engaged in a skirmish with Fernando Alonso late in the race, when the Spaniard's Ferrari appeared to put all four wheels off the track when passing Vergne at the pit exit. Vergne was phlegmatic in his post-race reaction to the incident, though he did draw attention to F1 rulebook which has seen penalties delivered for similar events in the past.

"For a while now, if a driver puts a wheel outside the track when overtaking he gets a penalty and he had four wheels outside the line," he said. "In any case, he would have passed me down the next straight as I was struggling with my tyres by then."

by Philip Barclay