Time to say goodbye
As usual, the last race of the year meant this was goodbye for a number of driver and team combinations. Sainz signed off from McLaren by doing his part for the team, having been presented with a large piece of orange bodywork as a parting gift. It won’t be accepted as hand luggage on the flight home, Carlos.
Renault itself also said goodbye (even if it was only in name ahead of the team’s re-branding as Alpine for 2021). Fernando Alonso’s hot laps in his 2005 screaming V10-powered R25 was a fitting send-off – and an uncomfortable reminder of what F1 has lost in this hybrid era.
In the race itself, Daniel Ricciardo delivered one final star performance in yellow, managing a 40-lap opening stint on hard-compound Pirellis, which pushed him from 11th on the grid to seventh. He’ll take Sainz’s seat at McLaren now, as the Spaniard heads to Ferrari.
For Sebastian Vettel, this was an emotional day as he finished six seasons in red. Even if he never added to the four titles he won at Red Bull and ultimately slipped into a sad decline, no one can ever say the German didn’t care or understand what it meant to drive for F1’s most famous team. In fact, the opposite was true. The mechanics clapped him out of the pits as he headed to the grid and he broke into Italian song on the radio on his slow-down lap, his last as a Ferrari F1 driver, on a day when he’d finished one place behind his team-mate Charles Leclerc in 14th. There was a sense of melancholy mixed with relief that it was finally all over, ahead of his move to Aston Martin.