Abu-Dhabi Grand Prix
I’m really glad that black stripe, which lasted for a number of weeks, finally behind us. Final weekend ran really positive, and the car was improved from session to session. Contrary to recent events we had almost no issues with grip. The team worked hard, and Yas Marina track suited our car, because there are no fast turns, where downforce is particularly important, there.
On Saturday we went through sessions up to Q3 easily, but at most important moment it was somehow hard for me to warm up tyres. I did one fast lap, then grip decreased on second one and I couldn’t improve. Finally it was 10th starting position.
This time start was almost perfect, we find very good clutch setup. I nearly overtook both Mercedes drivers and was just between them. But Nico Rosberg moved into my side and I lifted off a bit. This time I definitely need to finish and a crash was absolutely last thing in my plans.
Michael Schumacher spun at Turn 6 just in front of me – fortunately my foot was on brake pedal that moment so I could avoid a crash. We planned early pit-stop, but after safety car appeared on track on first lap the team made a call immediately. They informed me I need to drive whole race on the same set of tires. I needed to nurse it, don’t get a flatspot or wheelspin. So I was really accurate and try my best to avoid mistakes. Fortunately, track conditions and grip level increased during the race.
Most of the race I defended my position from Fernando Alonso attacks. It looks like after the finish almost every journalist came to ask me about our battle. I understand his feeling and emotions – he was losing no less than championship title. But I had my own race as well. Fernando had high aims, he was faster and found himself behind me by occasion – but that Sunday he had no chance to catch and attack me. He was far from happy after finish, but I don’t feel I spoiled his race.
My first Formula One season is now over. I couldn’t say I’m completely happy with how it went on. There were mistakes and accidents, but on some weekends we looked really strong. I would like to thank Renault F1 Team and all the people, who help me during the season, who support me and follow my races. I learned a lot and become better as a driver and a person. Now we have winter break ahead – it’s time to relax a bit, and then start training again and preparing for whatever next season may bring…