ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the Yas Marina paddock following the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton (1st): “This has been a great year and I’m so thankful for so many things – for my health, for my team, for all the hard work everyone’s done non-stop at the factory and on the road. I also want to say thank you to all the fans who’ve saved up and travelled and came to the races and those supporting us from home and who’ve been sending their positive energies and their prayers – a big, big thank you to everyone. This year has been a very uplifting experience for me. I wanted to come here and make sure that I left no stone unturned; the team did an exceptional job all year long, so I really wanted to deliver for them and end the season off strong. I think I was able to do that and I’m really grateful for all the support throughout the entire year. I’ve been able to be a better me all year long and I will continue to try to work on that and try to work on the energy that I’m projecting to people. I had a lot of fun in the car today – I love driving, I loved driving every minute today and I hope I have many more days to go.”
Valtteri Bottas (5th): “It would have been nice to have a better ending to the season, but this race probably sums up the year pretty well – it started off well but then it went downhill from there. Everything felt pretty good in the beginning of the race, but then I had a lockup into Turn 5 and Turn 8 and lost some ground. I was struggling with the brakes and I also had a slow puncture after I my contact with Max, so I had to pit a second time. Max and I touched, it was proper battle and hard racing, but it was all fair. The last laps after the pit stop felt pretty long because I knew I couldn’t gain any positions. This season didn’t go the way I had hoped, so I’m actually quite happy that it’s over. I will be pretty busy in the next couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to a bit of a break in December and a fresh start in 2019. I will analyse everything from this season to come back stronger next year.”
Sebastian Vettel (2nd): ”I think today’s race sums up the year pretty well: a few ups and downs and in the end just being close, but not close enough. Today, I really tried to hang on as long as I could, but it was tough being behind Valtteri. I believe I was a little bit quicker, but it was very difficult to get close, especially in the last sector, until he had some issues and I managed to get past. We were strong in the straights and we had speed, but we were struggling in the last sector to keep up, especially in the last two corners. At one point, I had hopes of winning the race, so I was pushing as hard as I could, but in the end it was not enough. It has been a very intense year and I think we have to look at ourselves, as there are many things that we can do better and the potential this team has is still huge.”
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF): ”Obviously I’m a bit disappointed. It’s not the way we wanted this last race together to finish. We wanted to do well and I think we would have had a pretty good car for the job. Unfortunately we had an electrical issue; in the back straight, I felt I was lacking power and then everything shut down. It’s a pity but that’s how racing goes sometimes. It’s been a pretty decent season, but the four retirements were not in our plans and obviously did not help; we wanted more for sure. I want to thank all the Ferrari fans who always gave me a lot of support. We went through good and bad times together, and this makes it all the more interesting. Of course we wanted a better finish, but that’s part of the sport. We will always have the memories of winning the Drivers’ Championship and two Constructors Championship together.”
Daniel Ricciardo (4th): “I’m happy with my race, I’m happy with all the Team’s efforts but still a bit disappointed to just miss out on the podium. I caught Kimi and could see the podium but unfortunately it just wasn’t quite enough. The strategy was spot on once again so we can’t fault ourselves at all. I had fun and some great battles, especially my pass on Bottas. I told the team on the radio I was going for it and I made it stick. The battle with Seb was cool, I think we maybe touched once or twice, but I’ve always respected him and the way he races. We’ve had some on-track battles before, at times it gets slightly heated, but I believe we know where each other’s limits are. It’s frustrating because every time we have a penalty we seem to have a fast car, if we started closer to the front I’m confident we could have had a really good result. It’s bitter sweet I guess, we did well but if we had started where I qualified we could have done better, you can’t ask for much starting start from 11th. Anyway, I have no regrets from the race, I did all I could and I know the team did, so it is what it is. With the pace we had today I really have some optimism going to Abu Dhabi. I feel like that’s a stronger track for us than this, so maybe we can go there and drink some fake champagne.”
Max Verstappen (3rd): “It wasn’t easy from the start, the engine had a bit of an issue which meant we lost a few places in the opening lap. It was a good launch but then I think it went into some sort of protection mode, we switched a sensor off and it seemed to be ok for the rest of the race. Once we had sorted the problem I was able to get on the attack and enjoy some really nice overtaking, especially passing Bottas. I don’t think he saw me on the inside so we ended up touching, luckily we both escaped with no damage. It is hard to follow here so although I got close, I never really had a shot at getting past Seb. I struggled in the closing laps a bit because I couldn’t see. My visor was covered in oil from the back of Pierre’s car, if I wiped it, it made it worse, it was like driving through fog. Luckily the tyres held on until the end and I managed to finish my season with another podium. Everyone is ready for a bit of a break now, so we will take some time off once testing is complete, and come back refreshed and ready for a new challenge in 2019.”
Esteban Ocon (DNF): “It’s a very frustrating way to end the season. Everything was going well, we had some fantastic battles and overtakes, and the pace we had was really good. We weren’t on the best strategy because we had to start on the hypersoft tyres, but we had managed to recover well and we were looking good for a finish in the points. We did everything right as a team but sadly the car had an oil leak which forced us to retire. That’s how racing is: days like these are disappointing, but they make you stronger. I am grateful for all the support I have received from the fans, people inside the sport and of course inside the team this season.”
Sergio Perez (8th): “Considering everything that has happened this weekend, I am pleased to finish inside the points. I’ve not been happy with the car and I’ve not had the pace we expected. We just never solved the balance issue and I think there could be some damage somewhere in the car. The start of the race was very important and after a strong first lap I was up inside the top ten. After that, the strategy worked as planned and my main competition was Leclerc. I was very close to him in the final few laps, but I just didn’t have the pace to overtake him. I am pleased we could protect the seventh place in the team’s championship and it was important to end the season with some points.”
Lance Stroll (13th): I was very pleased with the start and the race in general and happy with my performance, but it was another one of those races where we just didn’t have enough pace to pick up points. It was challenging, but I thought for the package we had it was a good race and I am happy to have been fighting with the McLarens and to have finished in front of one of them. We went really long in the first stint, which was good, but the wind picked up a little bit in the second stint and really impacted the performance of the car on the ultrasoft tyre, so I went downhill from there. Now I shall recharge my batteries as it has been a long year.
Sergey Sirotkin (15th): “It was a really bad race. I didn’t get the best start and straight away I lost a lot of ground and wasn’t in the best position for the next sequences of corners. I had problems with the car overheating so for one third of the race I had to do massive cooling. It was such a painful race, such a painful stint. I was trying my best to cool it down as quick as I could but as other cars pitted and came out behind me, I tried to fight, protect and cool the car at the same time and it was a mess. I didn’t enjoy it. It has been a very, very painful race. I really wanted to enjoy it and it’s just so painful to finish the season like this.”
Nico Hulkenberg (DNF): “It was frustrating to be out of the race so early today and ultimately to finish the season this way having worked so hard with the team all weekend. It looks spectacular when cars flip but luckily it wasn’t a high impact crash. It was a racing incident; I didn’t see Grosjean – I thought that he went off the track and I took the apex, but the tyres touched and I flipped to go upside down. Overall it has been a good positive season for us with strong points. The team got fourth today in the Constructors’ Championship and I got seventh in the Drivers’; on paper, the best season in my career. I am very pleased about the progress we have made this season. It’s been great working with Carlos, he’s been an excellent team-mate. I’ve enjoyed the season a lot and look forward to an even better one next year, also with Daniel joining the team. It will be very exciting.”
Carlos Sainz (6th): “Today was a really great result for us and this sixth place feels a bit like pay back for France and Mexico. We deserve it! I had a very strong pace all the way and it was a perfectly executed race. We achieved fourth in the Constructors’ Championship and it is a very big result for us. This last race of the season firmly demonstrates all the progress made this year. I leave this team feeling very happy with what we’ve achieved and as a driver it makes me especially motivated. This was my last race with the Renault team and I thank everyone for the last year and a half. I’m not leaving the family and look forward to continue to see many of my Renault colleagues as I join McLaren.”
Brendon Hartley (12th): “Unfortunately, my race was kind of over on the first lap. I didn’t have anywhere to go with the crash into Turn 8 and I had to go off track to avoid the cars in front. I ran into some debris and damaged the front wing, so I had to stop on the first lap and then did a whole race on one set of tyres with the old spec front wing, which was always going to be an uphill battle. I managed the tyres well, but after the issue on lap one, P12 was pretty much the maximum we could manage. I’ve finished the year a lot stronger than I started it as the past few races have been great, however today didn’t work out as planned. I’m happy with my progression throughout the season and I feel like I’ve come out of this year a stronger individual and racing driver.”
Pierre Gasly (DNF): “It has been a difficult weekend for us between qualifying and the race. A few laps to the end we had an issue where smoke started to come out of the car, I don’t know exactly what happened, but until that point it was a really fun race and I was enjoying it. I started 17th and managed to move up the field to P10 and fight with Romain who finished P9, but unfortunately we ended the season the same way we started it, with a DNF. It was a bit emotional today because it was my last race with Toro Rosso. I’ve had a great season with them and Honda and I really wanted to finish well. Overall, it was a positive season from my side, I really enjoyed working with Toro Rosso and I will remember the good weekends we had together. I’m excited to start a new chapter with Red Bull Racing next year but, still, I will miss the guys here: they gave a lot to me and they’re great people who have a lot of passion for what they do…it was a big pleasure to work with them!”
Romain Grosjean (9th): “It was complicated after the damage on the first lap. Obviously, there was (slight damage to) the front wing and maybe more. I’m glad Nico (Hulkenberg) was OK, though. The car was not easy to drive today, but I’m very happy that Kevin finished 10th today, so we both finished in the points. We’ve got such a great relationship in the team. We enjoy being together and, for the team to finish with double points, that’s great. Obviously, you always want more, and I think today more was achievable. But considering the damage to the car, I’m quite happy with where we were.”
Kevin Magnussen (10th): “I’m very happy with the season. It’s easy to forget how young this team is. We’re only in our third year. We set a goal this season to take a step forward, which for us would have been seventh in the championship. But we’ve scored fifth comfortably. We’ve been strong all year. We challenged the likes of Renault and Force India all the way to the end. I’m very happy with that. The year has exceeded expectations.”
Guenther Steiner: “To get to the end of the season and score double points, it’s good. It’s ninth and 10th, but we couldn’t catch anybody in the championship, anyway. It’s a good result for the team to go into the short break. We can enjoy fifth place in the championship, which I think is a big achievement for a young team. We are very happy with that. We will be coming back strong next year.”
Fernando Alonso (11th): “It has been a very intense and good few days. I think I still need a couple of days to take everything in that I’ve lived and this weekend will always be in my heart. There have been so many nice things prepared for me from Formula 1, from my team and from the fans. I’ve been extremely busy, and didn’t have the right time for myself to think about what was going on.
“Thanks also to Lewis and Sebastian for the nice in-lap all together. It was quite emotional. I have a lot of respect for them, they are great champions and I feel very privileged to have raced with them for most of my career.
“Today it was a good race, focussing on tyre management, fuel saving, and fighting for points until the last lap. All my career I have always been fighting, sometimes in competitive cars, sometimes not, but I’ve never given up. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and for having raced for the best teams in the world.
“Thank you to my fans and all the people who have followed me over the past 18 years. I felt a lot of support and respect for me and this is something I take very seriously. I feel honoured. But, I’m not stopping racing. I love motorsport, so don’t give up on me!”
Stoffel Vandoorne (14th): “No points today to finish the year, but nevertheless it was a pretty good race. I had fun out there today – we knew it was going to be a tough one for us, especially without there being many incidents. We fought very hard and closed in on a couple of cars, and that was a really enjoyable part of the race. I fought like hell to keep cars behind!
“I’m happy with what we did this year with what we had. It’s great to finish the season – today we gave everything and now I’m happy to see the chequered flag.
Unfortunately, we weren’t quick enough for points, but that was always going to be the case. I’m happy with how the race went, I gave it everything.
“It’s time to celebrate a little bit and then time to move on to something fresh. I’m sure tomorrow my head will switch to my new challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”
Marcus Ericsson (DNF): To follow
Charles Leclerc (7th): To follow
Mario Isola, head of car racing: “While nearly everyone went for the expected one-stop strategy, it was an interesting race tactically, and I think everyone was surprised to see a few drops of rain halfway through the race – which came to nothing in the end. Lewis Hamilton went for a very early stop and then ran a long second stint on the supersoft, while Daniel Ricciardo in fourth, did the opposite: a long opening stint on the ultrasoft followed by a shorter second stint on the supersoft. In between, there was also Max Verstappen, who made up three places after starting on the hypersoft. Now, we immediately turn the page and concentrate on 2019 with the drivers sampling next year’s definitive tyres for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday: they will also have the 2018 tyres available to make a comparison. Finally, this is also an appropriate moment to pay tribute to Fernando Alonso after an amazing Formula 1 career: we wish him the very best for the future.”