Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner at one stage believed Daniel Ricciardo could go on to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ricciardo, who started fifth on the Yas Marina grid in his final race for Red Bull, ran long in the first stint and found himself in the lead prior to finally stopping on Lap 34.

When he re-emerged, the Australian initially lapped over two seconds faster than race-leader Lewis Hamilton, with the Mercedes driver on much older tyres having stopped during an early Virtual Safety Car period.

Driver Ratings - Abu Dhabi GP

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Horner said Red Bull had given Ricciardo the “best tyre for the second half of the race” and revealed he thought a repeat of Ricciardo’s sensational charge to victory in China was on the cards.

“When he came out of it and went two seconds a lap quicker than the leaders we thought this could be another China,” Horner explained.

“We had 26-lap better tyres than Lewis and 16-lap better tyres than Max [Verstappen]. We thought this should give him a competitive advantage to the end of the race.

“But unfortunately after that initial kick, once he was able to close up to the group he wasn’t able to get any further.”

The second half of Ricciardo’s 2018 campaign has been plagued by numerous reliability problems that have prevented the Renault-bound driver from taking a podium since he won May’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Horner said the whole team was hoping Ricciardo would get the chance to “do a shoey for the final time” but he ultimately had to settle with fourth, crossing the line less than three seconds behind teammate Max Verstappen.

“We were all hoping that Dan would be there [on the podium],” Horner added.

“Obviously last race with the team, we wanted him to do a shoey for the final time. But it wasn’t to be in the end.

“After the pit stop I thought that it might not just be a podium but his race ran out of steam a little bit over the last 10 laps.”

 

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