Daniel Ricciardo has capped off his career season of Formula One in absolute style, with a run from the pit lane up to fourth in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Granted, this isn’t the best pit lane to ultimate final result run in Red Bull’s Abu Dhabi resume – Sebastian Vettel did the trick from last to a podium in 2012 – but consider the Red Bull is perhaps only the third best chassis in the field and that makes Ricciardo’s result this Sunday all the more remarkable.
Both drivers started from the pit lane after they were disqualified post-qualifying for a front wing infraction. Coincidentally, this makes for an odd book-end of DQs for Ricciardo, who was also disqualified from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix for a fuel irregularity.
No matter though. The pair started on the prime tires and quickly made it into the top 10 in the opening laps, with Ricciardo then into the top five past Lap 22 thanks to this strategy.
Ricciardo quickly became embroiled in a battle over fourth with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, and Bottas eventually got through.
Still the strategy paid dividends because even once Ricciardo finally stopped for the first time, he only dropped to sixth. He was quickly back around Sergio Perez’s Force India several laps later, and was setting the fast race lap lap after lap on the options.
With Nico Rosberg out of the way due to his ERS issue, Ricciardo and Bottas were ultimately the protagonists for the final podium position. Bottas prevailed, but Ricciardo had still turned in a stellar drive for his 13th top-five finish of the season.
“Yeah really happy, I think it was pretty much a faultless race from all sides, from the strategy, to myself and the pit stops, everything was good so we did everything we needed to,” Ricciardo said. “I had fun passing, it wasn’t boring out there, so it was pretty much what I asked for. One spot better would have been nice, but fourth is really cool from the pit lane.”
He ends the year third in the World Championship, and the only driver outside the pair of Mercedes teammates to have won a race – Ricciardo took his first three wins of his F1 career in Montreal, Budapest and Spa.
“It’s been pretty much a perfect season, as perfect as it can be without holding a world title, so no real regrets, no complaints,” he said. “It’s nice to not only start the season well, but to finish it well also and I think all the way through it was good – we had a strong summer as well, so the start, middle and end were pretty good!”