Abu Dhabi GP 2020 - GP preview - Renault F1
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the 38th and final race for Daniel Ricciardo in Renault colours. The Australian has two podiums to his name during that time but remains determined as ever to depart with a big result.
How much do you enjoy racing in Abu Dhabi?
It’s time for the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi. It’s a track I’ve always really enjoyed, and it’s one of the first places I drove a Formula 1 car, so the circuit holds some early memories of the sport for me. The weather is great there and the paddock is one of the nicest of the year so it’s all very luxurious and nice to end what has been a very strange but equally memorable year.
What’s the circuit like?
The track is a fun one, but it’s quite difficult to overtake so qualifying will be important. It’s very different to where we just were on the outer circuit in Bahrain, but we come here on a high following the result last weekend. It’s also my last race with the team and I want to end it on a high and leave knowing we gave everything to the very end.
How are you feeling ahead of your last race with the team?
Fourth and third in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship is still up for grabs so there is a lot still to play for. We’ll look to put one more strong one together and close out the year and my time at Renault in style!
Esteban Ocon achieved his first podium in Formula 1 last weekend and the team’s best result since returning to the sport in 2016. It was a proud moment for the Frenchman as he sets his sights on the season finale.
Has that podium feeling sunk in yet?
I’m so happy from last weekend. I’d like to say a big thanks to the team for executing a really good race; from the strategy calls to the pitstops, it was a team effort and one we deserved. I was definitely very emotional on Sunday after the race, especially when everything had calmed down and I spoke to my parents and girlfriend on the phone. It’s been a dream to not only race in Formula 1 but to be on the podium, so to achieve that is very satisfying. Now I’ve had that feeling, I only want to have it again and we’ll continue to fight to achieve more results like that.
What do you like about racing in Abu Dhabi?
The Abu Dhabi weekend is always quite special as it’s the final race of the season and there’s a cool atmosphere in the paddock. Racing at night is very enjoyable too, so to have these last three races under the lights is really fun. The aim is to build off last weekend, finish strongly and enter the winter off-season on a happy note. In terms of the circuit, it’s quite a nice, flowing track. The two long straights are good opportunities to overtake with DRS and hopefully we’ll be in a position to battle on track so we can give it a go.
How have the results been here in the past?
I have great memories from Yas Marina as it’s where I won the GP3 Series in 2015. Before last weekend, it was actually five years ago since I was last on the podium at that round, which is crazy to think. It was also the track where I drove in FP1 for the first time in Formula 1. It feels like I’ve tested a lot there in the past, including my first taste with the R.S.19 last season, which helped me prepare for my first year with the team.
Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam
After the team’s haul of points in Bahrain last weekend, attention quickly turns to the season finale in Abu Dhabi. It’s all to play for in the Constructors’ Championship as Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam previews the 17th and final race of a frenetic 2020 season.
What are the main considerations for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
The circuit at Abu Dhabi is well known to the teams, and the weekend follows a similar timing schedule to the first Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, with FP1 and FP3 practice sessions during the mid-afternoon and FP2, Qualifying and the Race later in the afternoon as the sun sets and the track cools down. The track has two quite long straights, both with DRS zones, which are the main overtaking opportunities on the track, with a tight, slower last sector that is hard on the rear tyres especially.
How important are the tyres this weekend?
By this stage of the season we know the characteristics of the car well, so setup is generally a case of fine-tuning to the specific conditions of the weekend and the individual sessions. We have the C3, C4 and C5 tyres for this event. The C5 is the softest in the Pirelli range, and this is only the second race of the year where it has been allocated with Sochi being the first. In the past at this circuit this tyre has been much quicker on a single timed lap but has suffered from higher degradation that makes it a less attractive race tyre, so qualifying and race tyre choices need some careful consideration.
What are your thoughts on the tight Constructors’ Championship?
Our result in Bahrain was our highest points score so far, with Esteban on the podium in second and Daniel in fifth. We are close enough to McLaren and a little further from Racing Point that the final championship positions will go down to the wire at the last race in Abu Dhabi.
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