Aston Martin Red Bull Racing signed off the 2019 Formula 1 season with a ninth podium - including three victories - as Max finished second in Abu Dhabi.
It was a strong race for three of the four Honda-powered cars who scored points, with Pierre unfortunately having his race compromised at the start.
The Frenchman was the innocent party as he was hit from behind at Turn 1 and in catching the resulting slide his front wing was damaged. A first lap pit stop for a new front wing dropped him far behind the field and without the help of a Safety Car he was limited to 18th at the finish.
His team-mate Daniil had a much more exciting evening under the lights at Yas Marina, starting on the hard compound and climbing through the field from 13th place. After pitting for medium tyres on lap 41, Daniil quickly made his way into the points, overtaking Nico Hulkenberg to secure ninth place that also saw him finish above Hulkenberg in the final drivers’ standings.
The drivers’ championship was also an aspect in Alex’s weekend as he had an outside chance of finishing sixth overall, and he duly fought with Sebastian Vettel for the majority of the race. An early first stop to swap mediums for hard tyres allowed him to get the undercut and try to get to the end on a one-stop, but Vettel managed to overtake in the closing stages after switching to a two-stop strategy.
Alex still picked up eight points with his eighth top-six finish since joining Red Bull, but it was not quite enough to jump Pierre and Carlos Sainz ahead of him in the standings.
By contrast, Max secured third in the drivers’ championship with a comfortable second place, attacking Lewis Hamilton off the line but then settling in behind the leader. After extending his first stint he pitted for hard tyres on lap 25 and duly overtook Charles Leclerc with a strong move into Turn 8 seven laps later to regain second place, ensuring he has finished with a win and two podiums from the final three races.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”