24 November 2014
F1: Ricciardo performance mirrored season - Horner
Daniel Ricciardo produced a performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that reflected his 2014 F1 campaign as a whole, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Daniel Ricciardo's ascent from the Abu Dhabi pit-lane to claim fourth place in the final grand prix of the season only served to underline the Australian's potential, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Condemned to the back of the grid when both Red Bulls failed a front wing deflection test in post-qualifying scrutineering checks, Ricciardo and team-mate Sebastian Vettel ultimately started from the pit-lane following a series of set-up changes, but then enjoyed differing fortunes in the race.
While Vettel was held up behind the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, Ricciardo was able to make smart progress through the midfield and, by making his tyres last longer than most, found himself well up in the points before his first pit-stop.
Once there, he was hard to dislodge but, despite briefly harbouring hopes of a possible podium, had to settle for an eventual fourth. Despite having little in the way of championship positions to fight for – he was already confirmed in third place in the drivers' standings and RBR was a safe second in the teams' points – Horner was delighted to see next year's team leader end his season in good form.
“Not too bad is it,” he quipped post-race, “I think we'll just give up on Saturdays! What's all that stress for? We'll just focus on Sundays!”
With Vettel suffering a poor season by recent high standards, Ricciardo led the way for Red Bull in 2014, taking the only wins not claimed by Mercedes.
“I have to say, Daniel has epitomised his season,” Horner said of his final race performance, “It was an unbelievable drive from him - he was quick throughout, made some great overtaking moves and it epitomised his season exactly how he started it. He drove an immaculate race from start to finish. It was a tremendous performance and a fitting way for him to sign off the season.”
With Vettel moving on to Ferrari next year, Ricciardo will assume the senior role, underlining the team's decision for him to run in this week's Abu Dhabi group test in place of new team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
“We have a two-day test and the first day is for Carlos Sainz Jr as the winner of the Renault World Series,” Horner explained, “Then, on day two, there is quite a lot of work going on with Pirelli, and it was more relevant for the current driver to have that feedback than Daniil Kvyat, so Daniil will be busy on the simulator. He's going to be busy on the run up to Christmas....”
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