DANIEL Ricciardo drove one of his best races of the season at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, finishing fourth after starting 20th.
The Red Bull Renault driver from Duncraig had qualified fifth, but a controversial decision by the FIA governing body deemed that the Red Bull cars had front wings that were too flexible, and they were relegated to start last, with strengthened wings, from pit lane, instead of the starting grid.
The race on the superquick 5.5km Yas Marina circuit was the last of the 2014 season, and was the showdown between the dominating Mercedes-Benz drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who, between them, had won 15 of the 19 grands prix, with Ricciardo taking three.
At the start, the two silver Mercedes took the lead, but at the halfway mark Rosberg’s car developed power-robbing electrical issues and he fell back, eventually finishing 14th. Hamilton went on to win the race and the world title, with the Williams cars of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas second and third.
But Ricciardo had a sensational drive, carving through the field from stone last, to make up 16 places and finish fourth, and a solid third in the world championship. He also set the fastest lap.
His first season with Red Bull saw him win in Canada, Hungary and Belgium, plus get five more podiums.
He comprehensively outperformed four times former world champion teammate Sebastien Vettel, who will drive for Ferrari next year, leaving Ricciardo the lead driver for Red Bull Renault.
Before the race, Ricciardo said the year had been the best of his career.