Giedo van der Garde finished a delighted 18th in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, one place ahead of team-mate Charles Pic after a minor disagreement during the race when the Frenchman initially refused to comply with team instructions to let the Dutchman through.

After an eventful start, which saw van der Garde caught up in the incident that forced the early retirement of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen, the 28-year-old drove a measured two-stop race that saw him finish a lap ahead of the team's main rivals, Marussia.

Pic in the sister car also comfortably outpaced both of John Booth's charges, a morale boosting result, even if time is running out for Caterham to pass Marussia for tenth place in the Constructor's Championship.

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van der Garde was undoubtedly the happiest of the backmarkers after round 17 of F1 2013, and was quick to pay tribute to his team post-race: "I have to say that's one of my best ever races. The car was great today and the work the boys did in the stops, they were really on it and that helped a lot in the race," he said.

"At the start I was ahead of Raikkonen who made contact with my left rear in turn one. I nearly spun after the contact, and lost a bit of time to my team-mate and [Max] Chilton, but both Charles and I passed him by the end of the second lap and then we also got [Valtteri] Bottas. I'm obviously pleased the luck went my way this time and I made it through the first lap and from there the car was feeling great, just really well balanced.

"In the first stop I went from softs to mediums and I could really push everywhere - I had a bit of oversteer but nothing too bad. I was behind my team-mate after the stops but had more pace and the team made the call to let me past - with clear air I could really push and opened up a gap to him right to the flag.

"We know we need more luck and things to happen to the cars ahead to be able to get back tenth place in the championship, but it's still good to have finished so far ahead of our nearest rivals. We need to carry that form through for the final two races and I know that if things come our way, we can do what's required to finish my rookie season on a really positive note."

Pic, meanwhile, was left complaining about an understeer issue that has plagued his car all weekend, and was eventually happy to finish a lonely 19th after allowing van der Garde by.

"The car's been understeering all weekend and it just carried on the same today in the race. I had an okay start, passed Chilton and Bottas by the end of lap two and was immediately pulling away until the first stop on lap eight when we went from options to primes," he remarked.

"In the second stint the car just didn't have any balance I could work with. I was ahead of Giedo but the team told me to let him pass so I did but with the way the car felt I couldn't get any more out of it. That was the same pretty much right to the flag - in the final stint it felt a bit better but still nowhere near enough what I'd wanted."

by Philip Barclay