This could have almost been a memorable race, but we probably got more wrong than right today. We didn’t have the pace this weekend and tried as hard as we could, but this was actually one of the toughest race of the season for us. It’s a shame how the race panned out for me - I had a strong start fighting Carlos, but with the long first pit-stop and the five-second penalty meant the race was over for me. This race brought us back to reality, after our high in Brazil at a track that suited our car much better. Today simply highlighted what we already knew: that we have lots of improvements to make during the winter. Everyone in the team in Brackley and Brixworth is pushing as hard as they can and we’re headed in the right direction. And we are confident, we will have a stronger car next year.
This last race was just a good reminder of the whole year and I’m glad it’s over and that we can now look forward to next year. I had a strong start, but the car floor took a big hit during the contact with Carlos and everything else unfolded from there. When it happens, you just lose a little bit of performance, but the balance basically shifts forwards. It’s almost like you have loads of front wing and I had to wait for the stop to take out front wing – which did improve the balance. We had a difficult car all weekend and unfortunately, I had to retire right before the race finish because we lost hydraulic pressure. We will have the next couple of weeks at the factory, where we will work hard to make sure we can come back stronger next year so we will focus on that. I hope that the struggle this year will provide us with the strength and the tools to fight for more victories in the future – the team in Brackley and Brixworth deserve it, given how hard they’ve worked all year. So, we continue to get up and try – we need to show our strength across this winter and into next season.
Today we really didn’t perform well. We did all the mistakes we could possibly have made tonight: we didn’t have the pace, one driver breaking down and the other one running out of tyres - it’s a good summary of the challenges this season for us. We cooked the tyres in the first few laps because we attacked. The car seemed strong at the start, but then the front right just gave out and maybe that’s something we should’ve predicted. We knew that Abu Dhabi was going to be a difficult one for us so at least that prediction was accurate but then unfortunately we made mistakes we could’ve avoided. For us, this was a character-building season and we will put this car on display in the factory as a reminder. We had more bad moments than good ones, but the good ones were spectacular, like a week ago in Brazil, which reminded us how good it can be. It’s okay the way we feel right now but we’re pushing hard so we can be back next year!
It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the year, but if we’re honest with ourselves it’s the way we deserved to. We weren’t good enough in many areas today and we’ll use that fact to focus our work over the winter. It’s been very difficult, but the challenge has brought the team together and it feels like we are more united than we’ve ever been. We knew our winning streak would come to an end one day and we always knew it would be the biggest challenge the team has ever faced, but if we are to look at the positives of 2022, it’s how the team has worked together, how we’ve looked for solutions, rather than excuses and we will do everything possible to get back into the title fight next year.