Red Bull believed Daniel Ricciardo had a genuine chance to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when they saw how quick he was after his pit stop.
Ricciardo led the race after running a long first stint, then lapped two-and-a-half seconds faster than race leader Lewis Hamilton after his pit stop.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team’s strategy was to “give him the best tyre for the second half of the race.”
The team thought Ricciardo had a chance to repeat his victory in China, where he used a fresher set of tyres to overtake five cars and win the race.
“When he came out of it and went two seconds a lap quicker than the leaders we thought this would be another China,” said Horner. “We had 26-lap better tyres than Lewis and 16-lap better tyres than Max [Verstappen]. We thought this should give him a competitive advantage to the end of the race.”
However Ricciardo’s pace dropped of soon afterwards and he finished the race behind his team mate. “Unfortunately after that initial kick, once he was able to close up to the group he wasn’t able to get any further.”
Ricciardo ultimately finished fourth in his final race for the team. “We were all hoping that Dan would be there,” said Horner. “Obviously last race with the team, we wanted him to do a shoey for final time. But it wasn’t to be in the end.
“After the pit stop I thought that it might not just be a podium but his race ran out of steam a little bit over the last 10 laps.”
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