In his final GP for the team, Spain’s Carlos Sainz sped to an excellent sixth place finish at the wheel of his R.S.19 car.
The result assured him of P10 in the championship before he moves to the McLaren whose cars will also be Renault powered in 2019.
However there was a spectacular ending to team-mate Nico Hülkenberg’s season when his R.S.19 rolled upside down after an opening lap tangle with the car of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
Hülkenberg was able to walk away unharmed and despite the retirement still took a fine seventh in the drivers’ table – in part thanks to back to back sixth place finishes in October’s USA and Mexican grands prix. Only drivers from F1’s so-called ‘big three’ finished ahead of him in the final standings.
Likewise Renault has been beaten as a team this year only by those same big three: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Indeed Sainz’s sixth place finish in Abu Dhabi was more than enough to ensure Renault took fourth in the constructors’ standings – well clear of the chasing Haas and McLaren outfits.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “It’s a great way to finish the season. P4 is where we wanted to be in the championship; it’s a good result and a representation of the fantastic team effort on and off track and from both drivers…”
He added: “Obviously it was a shame to lose Nico early on, but he’s been a huge contributing element to the season result that we secured today. I’d also like to thank Carlos for all he has done for the team since joining us. He’s been a massive team player and we wish him all the best as he joins our partner McLaren next year.”
Spaniard Sainz enthused: “This last race of the season firmly demonstrates all the progress made this year. I leave this team feeling very happy with what we’ve achieved and as a driver it makes me especially motivated.
“This was my last race with the Renault team and I thank everyone for the last year and a half. I’m not leaving the family and look forward to continue to see many of my Renault colleagues as I join McLaren.”
Hülkenberg described his flip in the Abu Dhabi race as “frustrating” but still commented: “Overall it has been a good positive season for us with strong points. The team got fourth in the Constructors’ Championship and I got seventh in the Drivers’; on paper, the best season in my career.
“I am very pleased about the progress we have made this season. It’s been great working with Carlos; he’s been an excellent team-mate. I’ve enjoyed the season a lot and look forward to an even better one next year, also with Daniel (Ricciardo) joining the team. It will be very exciting.”