As the 2017 Formula One season wound down to a close in Abu Dhabi, Christian Horner joined drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo to reflect upon a season of mixed results for the Red Bull Racing pair.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen finished fifth in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas signed off 2018 with his third win of the year.
Starting sixth, Verstappen applied the pressure to Kimi Raikkonen but couldn’t find a way past and then failed to get ahead when trying to undercut the Ferrari at the pitstops.
The Dutchman, who won two of the last six races, then inherited a position when teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired from fourth with a hydraulics issue.
“I tried to follow Kimi at the start but it’s so hard at this track and I couldn’t find an opportunity to pass,” said Verstappen. “As soon as you get within 1.5 seconds, it is really tough to get close and make a pass.
“In the last two races we didn’t maximise our performance, but they are not strong tracks for us so we expected that. We will keep working hard to improve as we have done over the latter stages of this season.”
It was a frustrating end to the season for Ricciardo, too, with his retirement, coupled with Raikkonen’s fourth, seeing him drop to fifth in the drivers’ standings.
Ricciardo had the upper hand on Verstappen over the course of the weekend but felt something strange with the steering and thought he had a flat tyre during the race.
“Just before the pit lane I said: ‘I’m coming in’,” added Ricciardo. “We weren’t supposed to pit but I feared it was a puncture. Then, when we got back out, the steering was still strange and it suddenly got very heavy so I could tell that I was losing hydraulic pressure.
“I lost the power steering and then we couldn’t change gears and that was that.
“I’m now excited to go on holiday. I’m really looking forward to the break and hopefully next year we’ll come back stronger.
“We had some highs this year and a lot of positive moments, but it’s not the nicest way to end the season with a DNF.”
Red Bull ended the season third in the constructors’ championship with 358 points, 267 adrift of world champions Mercedes.
“It’s been a season of highs and lows for us. We would obviously have liked to have finished on a higher note,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
“But looking back, the positives we take out of the year are the three race victories and the 13 podiums for the RB13 and, of course, an awful lot of lessons with too many retirements.”
Ricciardo and Verstappen had warmed up for the race weekend with a lap of the Yas Marina Circuit on pushbikes.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend also brought the curtain down on a 40-year career, which includes 11 years in F1, for ExxonMobil motorsports technical advisor Mike Frost.
Over the course of 209 races, Frost has analysed 10,000 samples and traveled 2 million miles, which is the equivalent of 80 times around the world.
“I can’t believe it has been 11 years,” said Frost, who has worked with Toyota, Brawn, Force India and McLaren before moving to Red Bull for this season. “It’s flashed past, but has been good fun.”
Formula One heads into the winter break, resuming with pre-season testing at Barcelona on 26th February 2018 ahead of the first race of the season in Melbourne’s Albert Park on 23-25th March.