Abu Dhabi GP: Preview - Renault


Cyril Abiteboul: The last race of the season is a time for us to reflect on a difficult 2019. We have had high points: a double score in Italy and strong results in Mexico, USA and Brazil, but a disappointing start of the season marked by many issues where we have had to dig deep and discover new resourcefulness.

We enter the final race in Abu Dhabi with the pressure still firmly on. Fifth place is up for grabs in the Constructors' Championship and we face stiff competition to maintain our current position. We're confident in our ability to deliver the results we need over the weekend, but we have learned that the field is close and races are very open.

We also say goodbye to Nico after three seasons with the team. His contribution has been instrumental in our reconstruction and progression. We have harnessed his experience and ability to deliver strong results and he has played an important role in Renault's Formula 1 journey. We want to ensure we end our time together with the best result possible.

After 61 Grands Prix, Nico Hulkenberg heads into his final race with the team this weekend. The German has scored 149 points across the three years and is aiming to finish his time in yellow with a good points finish in Abu Dhabi.

Ahead of the last race this season, how would you sum up 2019?
Nico Hulkenberg: This season has admittedly had its fair share of ups and downs. Obviously, my seventh-place finish in Australia was a positive way to kick start the season for us, and the results we delivered in Canada, and later Monza, shows the progress we've made on tracks where a strong power unit is essential. Overall, I would say we've learnt a lot and can be confident of finishing the season well in Abu Dhabi.

How challenging is the Yas Marina Circuit?
NH: Yas Marina is an interesting circuit. It's a long lap with three contrasting sectors, which makes it difficult to find a rhythm. You aim to get comfortable straight away there and find a smooth balance on the car. There's a sweet spot on set-up to find with a couple of straights and also some medium to high-speed corners, especially in the last sector. As always, we'll be aiming for a good start on Friday to ensure we're in the best position for the rest of the weekend.

Is it a fun place to conclude the Formula 1 season?
NH: I enjoy finishing the season off in Abu Dhabi. The facilities there are excellent and it's a good place to celebrate a busy year. There's plenty to play for in the Constructors' Championship as we aim to secure fifth place. There's a task at hand, I'm ready for it, and I'll be targeting a strong result for the team.

What's the feeling heading into your final race with the team?
NH: It's been three memorable years for me at Renault. There have been highs and lows, but I've enjoyed my time as a driver here. We've had some great results and some 'nearly' moments, all of which I'll remember for a very long time. I'd like to thank everyone at the team including my engineers and mechanics for all their effort over the last 61 races. We have one more to go and we'll be giving it our all for the best possible result.

A sixth-place finish in Brazil meant Daniel Ricciardo has scored at the last three outings. He heads into the final race of his first season with the team with eyes on another strong result, where he aims to help the team confirm fifth place in the Constructors' Championship.

As we approach the season finale, how do you rate your first season with the team?
Daniel Ricciardo: It's been an interesting year for sure starting with a new team, and I think it's fair to say there have been some good times, as well as some difficult periods. I think the results we achieved in Canada, the fourth place in Monza, and good performances recently in Brazil and the US, are proof that we've had more consistency throughout the year. It bodes well for us and puts us in a good direction for next season.

What are your expectations for Abu Dhabi?
DR: It's always a special weekend with it being the final race of the season. It would be nice to continue the momentum we've had during the last part of the season through to the end and secure another points finish. Abu Dhabi has always been a pretty good track for me and it's an enjoyable race, so I'm really looking forward to getting out on track to end the season on a high. We have a bit of pressure on us in the race for fifth in the Constructors' Championship, but it means we have something to fight for and I like that feeling.

What's special about the Yas Marina Circuit?
DR: Having a race that goes from dusk to night is always cool. The weather is good too, so there's a lot to like about the track and the place. It's a fun circuit to race on, but I would say my favourite part is the third sector - how it weaves through the hotel section is always great and a nice way to complete the lap.

How do you reflect on the Brazilian Grand Prix?
DR: There was a lot going on in the race and it was really exciting! At one stage, it looked like we could finish anywhere. Ultimately, though, when the dust settled, it was great to score points again for the team, making it three points-scoring finishes in a row which is a real positive for us heading into Abu Dhabi.

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Published: 26/11/2019
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