2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: What the Drivers Said
Lewis Hamilton, 1st
“What a way to end the season! As a team, as a whole, we’ve been very strong this weekend and Valtteri did a great job today as well. I’m just so grateful for everyone’s continued hard work and dedication this year, we continue to raise the bar together. The support has been unbelievable, I’m completely overwhelmed, so a big, big thank you to everyone at the track but also back home who supports me. Team LH is such a cool, positive movement, I really appreciate it. This has probably been the biggest year of growth for us as a team, so I hope that that will put us in a good position for a new challenge next year. I’ve had some great races with Valtteri, Max and Charles this year and I anticipate that it will be even tougher competition in 2020. These guys will be working flat out to try and raise the bar, so I’m under no illusion that I will have to do the same this winter, but I wholeheartedly think I can. I feel fresh and just ready to keep going and I’m looking forward to another challenge next year.”
Valtteri Bottas, 4th
“This is a nice way to end the season. It was a good race for me, I had a lot of fun out there overtaking the others. I don’t think I could have extracted any more from the car today. It was pretty close in the end, but it wasn’t quite enough to overtake Charles for a spot on the podium. The beginning was a bit unfortunate because DRS was disabled for a while which made charging through the field difficult. But I still managed to gain some place while also extending my stint on the Mediums which put me in a good position overall. This has been my best season so far, I’m in a much better position compared to last year, so I’m looking forward to attack again in 2020.”
James Allison, Technical Director
“This is as good a day as we’ve had all year, in a very, very strong season with a lot of contenders for close to faultless performances – even if we didn’t have both cars on the podium today. Lewis was imperious at the front of the field, while Valtteri was aggressive, smooth and ruthless from the back of the grid to finish fourth. Showing the team at both ends of the grid in the best possible light. It’s fantastic for all of us after a long, hard year at the factories and the track to go into the winter knowing that we’ve finished the season in the same style that we started it. We look forward to coming back in the new year with a car that we hope can fight for championships all over again.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“So much hard work goes on behind the scenes, so I’m really, really happy we’ve ended the season in style with a spectacular win for Lewis and a brilliant fightback by Valtteri. Overall, the race was very good. Some great work in the pit stops, Valtteri’s drive from last to P4 was amazing and Lewis was absolutely untouchable at the front of the field. It may look easy, but it’s never comfortable. Results like this take so much time, effort and work from everyone, we are pushing so hard. I’m really happy for the team, it’s a strong way to sign off 2019 and head into the winter break.”
Max Verstappen, 2nd
“Of course I’m very happy to finish the season with a podium and to be third in the championship ahead of both Ferraris is also a good achievement. On this track today Mercedes and Lewis were just a bit too quick but as a Team we had a good strategy, good pit stops and the car was working really well so second place is a good result on this track. The pace was good and overall we were quite a bit faster than the other guys which is a nice feeling. Looking back my highlight of the season was Austria. To take the first victory for Honda in the V6 era was very emotional and as a Team to win at our home track again in front of so many Dutch fans was a great feeling. It’s been a good season and the Team never stopped pushing. Honda also made some great improvements so we can be very happy with our first season together. As a Team we want to move forward next year and fight for the title. We need to push flat out to close the gap but looking at the last few races we have made a positive step. It’s a great ending and now we just want to focus ahead and be even more competitive in 2020.”
Alex Albon, 6th
“The race didn’t turn out quite how we wanted but we will have a look at it. We pitted early to try and Undercut Seb but it didn’t work and then we got stuck behind a train of traffic without DRS. That made for a long second stint and the tyres just didn’t last until the end and Seb cleared a lot of cars quicker than we probably expected. It’s one of those things but looking back over the season I can be happy. I know there’s some work to do and areas I have to improve but it’s my rookie year so that’s always going to be the case. I feel like the racing has been good, the pace still needs work, but that will come with experience. We’re testing next week so we’ll continue the hard work and come back stronger next year. It’s nice to spend the winter knowing where I’ll be racing next year so I can focus on the job in hand. I’m really enjoying working with the Team so I can’t wait for 2020.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It was a very strong race for Max to finish second and cement third in the Drivers’ Championship. It was his ninth podium of the year and our 170th in total. We lost a position on the first lap to Leclerc but with good strategy and pace, Max got back past and it was a very comfortable second place to the end of the race. Alex was in the thick of it and his pace with Sebastian was right there today. We tried to take advantage of Ferrari’s pit stop mishap by covering them off and it was very close but we just missed out. When Seb made his second stop we elected to do the opposite and we knew it would come down to the last couple of laps. P6 for Alex today is still a very positive result, he’s learned so much in the nine races he’s done with us with eight of them finishing in the top six. I’m sure we’re going to see much more from him next year. It’s always good to finish the year with donuts down the main straight, which our drivers are very good at, and I think it’s been a great second half of the year for Formula One. For us, it’s very much been a transitionary year with Honda but as a Team we can be proud of our achievements and we go into the winter with good confidence.”
Sergio Perez, 7th
“The first part of my race was a bit messy. I got a big hit from Gasly into Turn 1, which meant that I lost a position to Magnussen. Because the DRS wasn’t enabled at the start, we lost a bit of time behind him, but I managed to overtake even without DRS. After a long first stint, we had to push hard to catch up to the midfield group. We had a very strong end to the race and my final lap overtake on Norris in Turn 11 was one of the best of my career. The six points we scored means that I have finished inside the top 10 in the Drivers’ Championship and I’m pleased we could do that. I cannot wait to start next season already.”
Lance Stroll, DNF
“I had contact on the first lap with Gasly and had to pit because of the damage to my front wing. After that, we were out of position, running down the order, and it was really hard to get back into contention. We explored the strategy options and I stopped twice, but when you lose so much time early on by changing the front wing, it’s difficult to recover. Unfortunately, we had a brake issue so we have to see what went wrong because I was struggling to stop the car. That’s why we retired. All in all, just a disappointing race.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“I’m pleased we could end the season with a strong performance and seventh place for Checo – as best of the rest – is a well-deserved result for the entire team. We judged the strategy well tonight with a one-stop race combined with some excellent overtakes by Checo. The move on Lando [Norris] for seventh place, on the final lap, was the pick of the bunch. Unfortunately Lance’s race ended in retirement due to a brake issue in the final few laps. Before that it had been a tough race with some damage on the opening lap forcing a very early pit-stop for a front wing change, which ended Lance’s chance of fighting for points.”
Carlos Sainz, 10th
“Very happy! The target this weekend was to finish P6 in the Drivers’ Championship and we made it happen! It wasn’t an easy race, with a lot of traffic in all the stints and having to start with the Soft [compound].
“We went for the two stops knowing it was going to put me in a delicate position to make it to the top 10, but also knowing it was my only chance.
“I managed to catch Hulkenberg right at the end and pulled off an overtake, on the last lap, that I will not forget! I’m very happy with my season and extremely grateful to every single member of the team. Thank you!”
Lando Norris, 8th
“Pretty much a good race having made a decent start. I struggled a bit and made a mistake at the end of my Soft stint, then had a big lock-up, so had to box earlier than we wanted to. But in general I felt like I did a good job with my tyre management.
“Good battling, good overtakes when I needed to do them. The only other mistake I made in the whole race was being overtaken at the end by Perez. In fairness, he did me fair and square but I’m gutted because that was a crucial overtake.
“It’s been a long season and overall I’m happy. We made some really good improvements and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. As a team, we’ve done an excellent job and I’m already really look forward to next season. Thanks to the entire team for making my rookie F1 season so cool!”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“Finishing in fourth place in the Constructors’ World Championship and sixth and 11th places for Carlos and Lando respectively in the Drivers’ World Championship, is a great achievement for the McLaren team this year. Most of all today I want to thank every single member of the team here at the track and back home, and our colleagues from Renault, for the outstanding hard work and great spirit everyone put into this year. Our congratulations go to Carlos and Lando for an excellent job all year, in and out of the car, which has been fundamental to all the points we scored and for a brilliant team spirit.
“It wasn’t an easy race for us today, since the start on Soft tyres compromised our race time compared to the guys that had free tyre choice at the start. Later in the race we decided to split our strategies and Carlos managed to put in an impressive extra stint with decisive overtakes on Medium tyres, which was then just enough to score the one point needed to secure P6 in the Drivers’ Championship. Lando did a great job managing his Hard tyres for a long, long stint, which was just not enough to keep Perez behind, but gave us another P8 in the last race of the season.
“Thank you to all our great partners for the incredible support we’ve had throughout the season, which is key to our performance recovery and boosts our team spirit. Thank you to Formula 1, the FIA and our fellow teams and competitors for putting on a great show again and continuing to help us build this great sport for the future. Most of all, thank you to our fabulous fans, who make it all worthwhile, are such fantastic supporters of McLaren and give us the extra motivation every day. Bring on 2020!”
Daniil Kvyat, 9th
“Today was a nice way to finish the season. That first stint on the Base tyre was probably the best stint of my life, I pushed like there was no tomorrow! Every lap I was quicker than the cars around me and I had a great feeling with the car. It worked out exactly as we had planned it, our strategy was fantastic and we had a good setup for the race. Maybe we sacrificed Qualifying a bit yesterday but we managed to put everything together today. I felt I left something on the table in the last couple of races, so I wanted to close the season with a really good race, to finish the year the way I did is a great feeling.”
Pierre Gasly, 18th
“I was really looking forward to the battle today. As Daniil was able to show, we had the pace and it could have been an exciting end to the season. Unfortunately, my race was over on the first lap when I got hit from behind and pushed into the car in front and my front wing broke. After the pit stop to replace it, I was one lap down and it is frustrating when you’re out there without being able to fight anyone, just hoping for a safety car. It’s a shame to end the last race of the season like this.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“Today’s race has been unlucky for Pierre, who unfortunately had his front wing knocked off in a lap 1 incident, which effectively ended his race. Dany got his head down and was right in the midfield battle at the end of the race after an extremely strong first stint, scoring points and ending the season on a high.
“Looking back over the season, I think we can be very satisfied with the progress made as a team in what has been an incredible tight midfield group. The STR14 has shown itself to be competitive in the midfield pretty much all year and has responded well to the in-season development. Although there is always room for improvement, everyone in Faenza and Bicester should be pleased with their part in moving the team forward. The result of the hard work put in by everyone in Toro Rosso is Sixth Place in the Constructors’ Championship and this is a very well deserved, hard-earned result and the baseline on which we will build on in 2020.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“Coming to the last race of the year, we were 16 points ahead of Racing Point and 8 points behind Renault. Following a fantastic start, Pierre was beside a Racing Point when Stroll crashed into him, pushing him into Perez and damaging his front wing. Therefore, we had to call him in to change the nose, an operation which took unfortunately a lot of time because of the damaged screws. The pace during the race was really fantastic and I think Pierre could have possibly finished in seventh or eighth position without the accident. As for Daniil, he drove one of his strongest races of this year with us. He was very fast on the Base tyre and showed extremely competitive pace. We called him in on lap 40 to change to Primes and he was again very fast on that compound. Unfortunately, when he overtook Hulkenberg, his front wing got damaged and that’s the reason why he lost some performance in the last laps.
“This was the most successful season for Toro Rosso with two podium finishes, Daniil in Hockenheim and Pierre in Sao Paolo. We finished in sixth position in the Constructors’ Championship, only a few points behind the fifth. I want to thank Daniil and Pierre for their commitment and mature performances as well as everybody in the team for their fantastic work during the year, a massive effort from everybody in Faenza but also in Bicester, because the upgrades we got from the aero department worked very well. In addition, Honda’s developments along the year were impressive and all these factors together made it possible for us to be competitive until the end of the season. I want to say a big thank you to Honda, because they did an unbelievable job last winter to get ready for the season. Three races won with Red Bull Racing and two podiums with us make me feel confident that next year we can be even stronger and we are looking forward to 2020.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“Having one driver on the second step of the podium and three cars in the points was a good end to the season. Another strong performance from Max saw him do a good job of managing the tyres and he produced a fantastic passing move on Leclerc to take second place and he is now confirmed as third in the Drivers’ championship. Alex had an excellent year as a rookie. As for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Daniil also did a good job of tyre management, running a brave strategy, being the very last driver to change tyres on lap 40, which put him in the points and then a great move on the Renault gave him a well deserved ninth place finish. Unfortunately, Pierre’s race was really over after his opening lap collision. This was our first year in the hybrid era working with two teams, with whom we communicated very well, allowing us to make a solid step forward. That progress is reflected in our three wins with Red Bull and two podiums with Toro Rosso. I would like to thank both teams; those members working at the track and everyone back in the facilities in Japan, Italy and the UK, as well as our suppliers. We even had support from other departments within Honda, so the whole company played a part in our improved performance this year. I would also like to thank all the fans who have supported us. This has been an encouraging year, but what we achieved this season is not yet where we want to be, so we will keep pushing to improve.”
Nico Hulkenberg, 12th
“We threw everything at it today and it was a shame not to score any points. The one-stop strategy was hard to pull off and my tyres were degrading too much at the end. Still, we had positive race pace and were very much in the fight until the end. It was a worthy final race for me with the team. I crossed the line with good feelings. It’s been three good years with them and we’ve grown very close like a family. I’m grateful and thankful towards them for all the highs and lows we’ve had together and I wish them every success for the future.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 11th
“It was quite a standard race for me today. We struggled a little on the hard tyre after the first stop, which was a shame, and at the end I tried to make up the ground on the faster tyre, but we just ran out of time. Although, looking at the bigger picture for us, it was a positive that we managed to secure fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, which was our goal coming into the weekend. We’re optimistic heading into the off-season and looking ahead for next season.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal
“Today was on the one hand a race like 20 others in the season, but on the other a race where we had the imperative objective to secure a championship position and we did it. Having said that, it was an exasperating race and we saw the current rules of starting on the qualifying tyre again penalising teams from P7 to P10. This was aggravated by being blocked behind McLaren and DRS not working due to an FIA technicality, meaning we were in dirty air at a critical part of the race, effectively another penalty.
“Nevertheless there were a couple of good moments with nice overtaking manoeuvres but they didn’t materialise into points, which is a disappointment, in particular for Nico. He’s been important to the team and our progress. I’d like to thank him, Daniel and the entire team at Enstone and Viry for their contribution and hard work over this tough season; let’s look to build on it and better it in 2020.”
Romain Grosjean, 15th
“It was a tough race. I think Friday afternoon’s crash with Bottas compromised a lot for today’s race, we just had the one floor of that package and that’s what we practiced with. We had to change the specification and revert to another one, which we knew, but it was always going to be tough from there, we only had FP2 as a representative session. I think from my side, I need to work on my starts in the races. It’s been a big weakness of mine this year. If we qualify well next year I want to make sure I have good starts. We worked as well as we could in the race, and the guys on the team did a good job again – we just didn’t have the pace. Hopefully next year is a much better story.”
Kevin Magnussen, 14th
“I made a really good start again, my first lap was good. Unfortunately, from there we didn’t really have the pace that everyone else had, and I lost those places eventually. We fought as hard as we could. I’m happy with how the team’s been performing, in races like this it’s very tough, mentally, to stay on it, and keep extracting things from it when things have been bad. Everyone’s on it though, everyone’s looking for that last bit just in case something crazy happens like a safety car at the right time or something like that. We always give ourselves the best chance for that. That’s been the trend all year – the team’s really kept on it even though it’s been very tough. I think we’re all happy to get out of this year and completely shift our focus to 2020. Hopefully it’s a much better year.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“The season ended as we expected. We got the most out of the car today. We’re glad the season is over and now we can focus on next year. We got a little bit bruised this year, but we’re not broken – we will come back. The aim is to forget 2019 and start next season as we left off 2018. The focus is on next year and we’re really looking forward to that work.”
Kimi Raikkonen, 13th
“We did all we could today, so we can keep our head high. Our race pace was better than what we showed in the rest of the weekend and we were in the middle of a few interesting battles. We fought for the points and thought we could get them, but in the end we fell a bit short. Now we’ll have a day off, then some testing and the season will finally be over. We learnt a lot from this one and we can use it to improve for next year. It’s impossible to guess where we will be, but we want to come back stronger. We made some steps forward this season but we want more.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 16th
“We fought to have a good result today but we didn’t manage to finish the season with a point. We tried a different strategy as we had to take our chances, starting from the back, although this gamble didn’t pay off. It’s been a season in which I learnt a lot of lessons: it will all help me when I get back to the start line in Melbourne. I am happy of the way I improved during the year, both in qualifying and the race, and I am looking forward to taking the next step forward. We will work hard this winter, understand where we can improve and do our best to have an even better season in 2020.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We bring this season to an end with a challenging race, but we won’t let this overshadow the good work we did this year. After yesterday’s qualifying we split the cars’ strategies to maximise the chances of a good result, but in the end the circumstances didn’t play in our favour. Still, we can look back at a season in which we scored more points than in 2018 and we have made strides in terms of performance. The midfield is the most competitive it has ever been, but we fought bravely. There is a lot we can learn from this season to come back even stronger next year.”
Robert Kubica, 19th
“It has been a difficult year and today it wasn’t easy, but at least we had some battles. On lap one with George we touched at Turn 5 and then later on with Giovinazzi, we touched quite heavily. I damaged the right-hand side of the floor quite a lot, so the last 35 laps were very difficult. It has not been an easy season, but at least we tried to give it our everything and didn’t give up.”
George Russell, 17th
“It was quite a fun but tough race, and the pace was relatively good. I didn’t make a strong start and a few people overtook me. After the pitstop the pace was strong for us, and I was pleased with the last half of the race.”
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
“We enjoyed the final race of the season and raced hard to the end. George was ambitious on the opening lap and caused some damage to Robert’s car, which hampered his pace for the remainder of the race. With a paddock-wide DRS problem early in the race, George was destined to complete the first stint behind Robert and was only in front of Gasly who had to pit for an early front wing change.
“We pitted Robert a little earlier than planned as we looked to cover Stroll. Robert was able to pull out a healthy advantage over George but, equally, George was able to create a tyre advantage. Once again, we allowed them to race after the pit stops and, on this occasion, aided by DRS, George was able to clear Robert and then, with Robert’s car damaged, pull away. George then enjoyed a very good stint on the option tyre. His pace and low degradation allowed him to chase down Stroll and he would have passed him easily had the Racing Point not retired. Robert’s pace was further compromised by a collision with Giovinazzi, which caused quite extensive damage to the floor and bargeboard on the right-hand side of the car. This meant that he fell back into a clutch of lead cars, losing further ground to George.
“Throughout a difficult season, the drivers and the whole team have performed well, professionally, and with good humour. We thank Robert for all his efforts behind the wheel and at the factory. His determination, experience, and knowledge have been invaluable over the last two years. We wish him all the very best for his future.
“George has served his first season in Formula One in difficult circumstances, however, his talent, drive and enthusiasm are obvious and it is clear that he has everything he needs to be a truly exceptional F1 driver. While he may not appreciate it fully yet, this year may prove to have provided him with some very valuable experience that will pay significant dividends in the future.
“Our attention now immediately turns to 2020 as we focus on tyre testing. This is a very good opportunity to understand the new tyres in hot conditions and will provide us with the information we need to select compounds for winter testing and the opening races of the 2020 season.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
“From a tyre point of view, with the three softest compounds in our range, we are satisfied with the overall performance here. We saw some long stints and low degradation, but also plenty of tactical variation and raw speed, with the decade-old race lap record finally broken on quite old hard tyres. This underlines the constant increase in performance we have seen in Formula 1 this year, which we have to bear in mind for the future. So now our focus turns to testing for 2020 and beyond as we remain at Yas Marina. On Tuesday and Wednesday all the teams will try out a range of 2020 tyres, with the opportunity to compare them to the current 2019 tyres. After that, we’ll also be testing the 18-inch tyre for 2021 in the last of our private tests this year. Congratulations to Hamilton and Mercedes, not just for this emphatic race win but also for claiming both championships.”