A strong result for Toro Rosso in the penultimate round in Brazil meant the Italian team had closed up on Renault in fifth heading to the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg had qualified well for the race, in seventh and ninth on the grid.
However their chances of finishing inside the top ten points scoring positions soon took a dive when F1’s drag reduction system (DRS) – fitted to all cars – failed briefly meaning both became stuck behind slower cars early on.
This had a knock-on effect for later in the race and Ricciardo finished it in 11, one place ahead of Hülkenberg after passing him on the final lap.
Fortunately, Toro Rosso was unable to capitalise and Renault was able to maintain fifth in the constructors’ table.
Ricciardo took ninth in the drivers’ standings and, in his final season with the team, Hülkenberg 14th.
Ricciardo commented: “We struggled a little on the hard tyre after the first stop, which was a shame, and at the end I tried to make up the ground on the faster tyre, but we just ran out of time. Although, looking at the bigger picture for us, it was a positive that we managed to secure fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, which was our goal coming into the weekend.”
And said Hülkenberg: “We threw everything at it and it was a shame not to score any points. The one-stop strategy was hard to pull off and my tyres were degrading too much at the end. Still, we had positive race pace and were very much in the fight until the end.
“It was a worthy final race for me with the team. I crossed the line with good feelings. It’s been three good years with them and we’ve grown very close like a family.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul was satisfied the team had met its objective of finishing as the fifth highest constructor in the championship.
But he added: “It was an exasperating race and we saw the current rules of starting on the qualifying tyre again penalising teams from P7 to P10. This was aggravated by being blocked behind McLaren and DRS not working due to an FIA technicality, meaning we were in dirty air at a critical part of the race, effectively another penalty.
“Nevertheless there were a couple of good moments with nice overtaking manoeuvres but they didn’t materialise into points, which is a disappointment, in particular for Nico. He’s been important to the team and our progress.
“I’d like to thank him, Daniel and the entire team at Enstone and Viry for their contribution and hard work over this tough season; let’s look to build on it and better it in 2020.”