ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer leads Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H on track during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Disappointing DNF for Ricciardo in season closer

For Daniel Ricciardo the 2017 Formula 1 racing season ended as it started with a disappointing DNF (did not finish).

The 28-year-old Australian star had to retire in the first of the 20-race series in Melbourne, and it also ended with an early retirement in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He qualified fourth and was in that position until lap 22, when he parked his Red Bull on the infield after it had a hydraulic malfunction.

“Not a good race day for me unfortunately,” he said.

“I felt something strange with the steering so I thought I had a flat tyre. Then I lost the power steering and then we couldn’t change gears and that was that.

“We had some highs this year and a lot of positive moments but it’s not the nicest way to end the season.”

It was his sixth DNF of the season and it cost him his fourth place in the Driver’s Championship.

Still, it was a solid performance from the ever-smiling Perth driver.

He won in Azerbaijan, and his tally included a second spot in Singapore and a string of thirds – in Japan, Malaysia, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Monaco and Spain – and fourth places in China and Italy.

Up front, it was another Mercedes victory, this time with Valtteri Bottas taking the honours with team mate and world champion Lewis Hamilton nearly 4 seconds adrift.

Sebastien Vettel was a lonely third for Ferrari, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth and Max Verstappen secured fifth for Red Bull.

Next came Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, followed by Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in the Force Indias, Fernando Alonso in the McLaren Honda, and 10th went to Felipe Massa in the Williams in his 269th and final grand prix.

While Verstappen described the race as ‘pretty boring’ all the action was midfield and to the back of the pack.

Romain Grosjean in the Haas and Lance Stroll (Williams) had a terrific scrap for 13th place and there was a good three-car dice between Massa, Alonso and Renault’s Carlos Sainz that ended for Sainz when his pit crew managed to send him out with an unsecured left front wheel.

At the tail end, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) and Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rossos provided entertainment almost as good as the event’s spectacular fireworks display.

“It’s been a season of highs and lows for us,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

“Looking back, the positives we take out of the year are the three race victories and the 13 podiums and, of course, an awful lot of lessons with too many retirements.”

The 2018 season starts in March at Melbourne.

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