Daniel Ricciardo says there could be tears and beers as he attempts a perfect sign off from his five seasons at Red Bull after being among the quickest times in Friday practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Sunday will be the Perth-born 29-year-old’s final race for Red Bull before he links up with Renault next season.
“Long runs are good, the short runs we can be better,” Ricciardo said after the second qualifying session. “But we showed signs of the pace we had. I’m pretty happy with today.”
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Ricciardo ran second in the first practice session, only behind teammate Max Verstappen. In the second session Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas pushed him to third as the flying Fin recorded the fastest time of the day.
World champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel fill out the top six with Ricciardo excited by a possible six-way shootout on Sunday at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“Hopefully we can be in there Sunday,” he said. “In qualifying we still need to be on the first two rows to really be in with a shot.
“If it is a six-way fight, which potentially it could be, then it is going to be a fun race.”
After a disastrous season where he has been plagued by mechanical problems, with eight retirements, Ricciardo is hoping for a fairytale finale. “
Since (winning) Monaco I’ve wanted a good weekend, so especially now as it is the last chance with the team to do it,” he said. “I’m actually excited, not because it’s the last one but more to the thought of finishing off in style and finishing off…”
Ricciardo has put a brave face on in the lead-up to the final round despite last month saying his Red Bull was “cursed” after yet another mechanical retirement in Mexico, where he had qualified in pole position.
The Australian, who sits sixth in the driver standings, still expects to be flooded by emotion after Sunday’s race.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll cry, maybe I won’t… I’m sure once it all settles on Sunday night I might have a moment,” he said. “Let’s have one last crack together, let’s enjoy it.
“It’s been an awesome ride the last five years so let’s use every last bit of what we’ve got together to try and make it a successful weekend. Then Sunday night we’ll party, drink and celebrate and maybe feel sad as well.”