Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Preview - AlphaTauri


Daniel Ricciardo: "We had a frustrating time in Las Vegas as we never really got the tyres to work properly and struggled with that all weekend. Abu Dhabi is a medium downforce track, making me more optimistic for the final race. After the unusual timetable at the last race, we're returning to a more normal weekend. However, because of the night race schedule, FP2 is the only real representative session in preparation for qualifying and the race. It's one of those where you treat FP1 and FP3 as a bit of a test session, but in your mind, you already know what you're doing for FP2 and qualifying. In a way, it can feel like the weekend's a little bit compromised, but it's a good chance to test some things, so I think we should be fine, and I'm looking forward to it. The last race of the year is always fun, and it's a nice place to end the season.

"They changed the track layout a couple of years ago, and generally, although it's made the driving experience a little better than before, I don't feel it has affected overtaking opportunities, so it hasn't improved the actual racing.

"We have updates this weekend, and even if I haven't been with the team all year, I know that one of the main areas that have been worked on is to make the car more efficient and less drag-sensitive. Some of these updates have targeted these areas, and I know it's something we want to improve for next year. I think having them at the end of the season means it should be a little less of a compromise for us than if this was at the beginning.

"Overall, looking back at the year, it's been fun even though it's been a short season for me with some hurdles, but I've really enjoyed it. I think that, in terms of feeling comfortable in the car and settling in with the team in this short amount of time, it has gone better than I thought it would, so that makes me happy, and gives me a lot of enthusiasm for next year.

"This will be Franz's last race with the team, which is quite something as he's been there since Day 1. When I visited the factory for the first time earlier this year, plenty had changed since I last raced for them, but Franz has been a constant presence. It's always been a pleasure to work with him, and you have to admire his dedication and will to win, which is as strong today as it was when I first started with the team back in 2012."

Yuki Tsunoda: "We tried our best in Las Vegas in the race and gambled a bit, starting on the soft compound, which paid off as I went from the back of the grid to 12th, avoiding the first lap crashes. After that, tyre problems that affected us all weekend, such as warm-up and graining, made life difficult, so I'm looking forward to a more normal weekend in Abu Dhabi.

"I feel positive about it and have good memories from Yas Marina, where I finished fourth a couple of years ago. We also have quite a few upgrades coming here, which should help us for the final race, as well as being useful for next year, so it will be important to see what effect they have. Although we didn't score points in Vegas, neither did Williams, so our fight in the Constructors' championship is still on, with the seven-point gap unchanged. I think putting everything together all week, extracting all the performance from the car, and maximising any opportunity will be crucial. Qualifying will be very important because even with the latest track layout, overtaking isn't easy. Hopefully, the car will perform well, and the warm conditions mean we won't have the tyre warm-up problem that affected us so badly in Las Vegas.

"Franz Tost has been the only F1 team boss I've worked with. I feel I've been fighting for him this year, and I really want to beat Williams for him in his last race as team principal. I appreciate what he has done. Without him, I wouldn't be racing here, and without his advice, I wouldn't have made as much progress as I have. Hopefully, we can finish on a good note, end the season the way we want, and be able to put a smile on his face.

"The last triple-header combined with simulator sessions has been quite tiring, so I'm looking forward to some time off. I always give my one hundred per cent effort at every race, and I'll do the same this weekend. I'll use up all the energy I have left in Abu Dhabi."

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Published: 22/11/2023
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