F1: Daniel Ricciardo set for emotional final race for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi
Robert Kubica in and Sergey Sirotkin out at Williams next season
Ricciardo: I’m going to have a right good cry
Daniel Ricciardo admits that there could be emotional scenes this weekend when he races in his final grand prix for Red Bull.
The Australian brings the curtain down on his five-year spell with the Red Bull senior team as he leaves for Renault next season. Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP will also mark his 100th race for the F1 team.
Ricciardo, 29, knows that changing teams is a “scary” prospect but for now he wants to finish his Red Bull tenure with a strong performance at Yas Marina Circuit.
Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, he said: “It’s not going to be easy, mentally. I know that. Each lap I turn in the car will mean one lap closer to my last in a Red Bull race suit. And when I get out for the final time in Abu Dhabi… I think I’m going to have a right good cry. Maybe a few of ’em.
“Then winter will come, I’ll go meet my new Renault friends, and I’ll start anew.”
Ricciardo currently sits sixth in the 2018 drivers’ standings with 158 points from 20 races. He has won twice this season, in China and in Monaco.
Kubica excited by F1 return
Yesterday it was widely reported that Robert Kubica had agreed a deal to race for Williams in 2019 and today the move has been confirmed.
It will mark a fairytale return to F1 for Kubica after he was left with severe arm injuries after a rally crash nearly eight years ago. He will partner British rookie George Russell in an all-new driver line-up for Williams next season.
Speaking at a press conference today in Abu Dhabi the 33-year-old Polish driver said: “It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula 1 grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2019.
“For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point, but as that challenge now comes to an end with this announcement, a new challenge begins working with Williams on track. It will not be easy, but with hard work and dedication, both George and myself will work together to try and help the team get in better shape to move further up the grid.”
Tough year for Sirotkin
While Robert Kubica is celebrating a return to F1 the man he replaces at Williams, Sergey Sirotkin, is left to reflect on not having a seat for 2019.
The Russian has only won one point from 20 races in the 2018 F1 season and the Williams team sit bottom of the constructors’ championship with just a total seven points. Sirotkin’s 2018 teammate Lance Stroll is also leaving Williams and is expected to join up with Force India next term.
In a post on Twitter, the 23-year-old wrote: “Dear friends, unfortunately I won’t be racing in Formula 1 next year. It was a very long and tough year, not everything went as I wanted it to be, but I kept working and gave all my energy and all my heart to achieve what I feel we deserved to and if I am honest I do believe we did a very reasonable job in the current situation we found ourselves this year.
“Thanks everyone for your support, for your trust and warm words, thanks for all the support I got during the Russian GP in Sochi which did seriously touch me a lot! And partly thanks to you all this season will always remain in my memory! Thanks for everything, dear friends!”
Autosport reports that it was Sirotkin’s backer SMP Racing who decided to split with Williams.
SMP Racing chief Boris Rotenberg said: “We took the decision not to continue participating in the Formula 1 world championship in the joint project with the Williams Martini Racing team.
“We were unpleasantly surprised by the team’s performance level at the start of the season, and the car’s development rate also turned out to be not high enough.”