Sebastian Vettel has hailed his time with Red Bull Racing as ‘an incredible journey’ after racing for the team for the last time on Sunday.
Starting from the pit-lane following the team’s disqualification on Saturday night, Vettel and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo managed to get into the points in Abu Dhabi, with the Australian racing to a spectacular fourth place, while Vettel came eighth.
The German admitted he felt he could have finished higher, but his progress was held up by McLaren’s Kenin Magnussen.
“I felt there was more, but once I got stuck behind Kevin at the beginning it was quite tough, so I can’t be completely happy with today; when you race you want to finish as high up as you can and today I think we had the pace to finish higher.”
The chequered flag signalled the end of Vettel’s relationship with Red Bull Racing. Having raced for the team since 2009 - and sister squad Toro Rosso since mid-2007 - Vettel has enjoyed unmitigated success, winning 38 races and four world championships in a row.
“I think the last six years have been an incredible journey,” said Vettel. “Obviously we didn’t expect that when we started working together – you can never expect four driver’s titles and four constructors’ championships in a row.
“You get to know some people in a very good way and build friendships that will last a long time. You go through happy days and sad days, you go through them together and I think I learned a lot.
“I’d like to thank Red Bull and the team for everything they did and I will miss them. I feel ready for the next step.”
Team boss Christian Horner heaped praise on the out-going Vettel, though said it was an unfortunate end to his time with the team.
“For Sebastian, eighth isn’t reflective of his time within the Team, four world championships, 38 grand prix victories, four constructors’ world championships and 44 pole positions.
“He’s been a fantastic team member he’s been an absolutely awesome competitor. He’s been a pleasure and delight to work with and we wish him well for the future; he’ll always be a friend of the team.”