And so, after 10,260 kilometres and 2,051 laps raced by the Team, after four wins and eight other podium finishes, and with 392 championship points in the bag so far, we’re heading for the final race of the season – the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
And it’s going to be an emotional weekend, as, of course, it will be Daniel’s final race with the team before he moves on to pastures new.
The Honey Badger has been part of the fabric for five seasons now (and part of the Red Bull family for a decade) and we’re sure that come Sunday afternoon all of us will find we’ve got something caught in our eye as we bid farewell to one of F1’s top racers and one of the paddock’s top blokes. Not that we’re having a little cry or anything, OK!
However, though it will be a pretty poignant end to the season, there is still a race to run and points to be taken, and as Daniel says, he’ll be going to the Yas Marina circuit with all “guns-a-blazing” and aiming to end the season on a high. It’s no different for Max, and coming off the back of a win and a second place, the Dutchman is fired up for the finale and for the test that follows…
There’s a big weekend in prospect for you at Yas Marina. How are you feeling going into this race?
Abu Dhabi marks the end of five years with the Team and ten years with Red Bull itself. I’m sure it’s going to be emotional afterwards, especially when I cross the line for the last time with the team. But I’m going there guns-a-blazing, showing a lot of love. Hopefully the love shows me back and I can spray some fake champagne on Sunday, which would be a fitting farewell.
Your form there says there’s a good chance of that happening. You’ve finished in the points in all but one of the races you’ve finished there.
Abu Dhabi has always been a pretty good track for me and I enjoy going there. I’m yet to get an Abu Dhabi podium, but that would be a pretty awesome way to end my stint with Red Bull and to end the season. Having a twilight race is always cool, the weather is good, so there’s not much not to like about the place. I love the third sector; it’s my favourite part of the track for sure, through the hotel and all that is good fun.
The final round is upon us. Abu Dhabi is not the traditional season-closer, so does it have that ‘school’s out’ vibe?
Apart from being the last race of the year, Abu Dhabi is always a special one due to the atmosphere. The crowds are big and noisy, and being a sunset race adds to the unique feeling. After a busy few races I think everyone looks forward to getting to Abu Dhabi. The nice weather and a more relaxed feel in the paddock means everyone is smiling.
What about the track. It’s a tricky one, with some long straights but also some tight and twisting sections. Do you enjoy that?
It’s fun to drive. Passing the yachts in the final sector has a similar feel to Monaco, but it's not as tight. There are some long straights that do not really play to our strong points but we will try to make up for this in the twisty sectors.
What’s the plan for you once the flag falls on Sunday?
Once the race is done the Team can relax a bit, and have some well-earned downtime. We of course have testing shortly after but I will definitely try to chill out and get some sun on the Monday. Before we know it, we’ll be testing and working hard towards 2019 throughout the winter, which is very exciting.