Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Nothing less than a title run will do for Red Bull

2017 F1 season preview: Red Bull

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If Ferrari is the team which didn’t look in great shape heading into 2017 but has run well in testing, Red Bull is the opposite.

Everything we know about the upcoming season points to it being a good year for Red Bull. But pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya offered little to justify those expectations. Were they just flying under the radar?

After a win-less 2015, Red Bull scored three major victories last season, only two of which came with trophies. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen took a win apiece in Malaysia and Spain. But the triumph that really mattered concerned the 2017 rule book.

The 2017 technical regulations may not have arrived in Milton Keynes in a pretty box with a bow around it, but they undoubtedly are a gift to the four-times champions. And like all the best presents, the recipient had a hand in making sure they got what they wanted.

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The new rules were crafted in line with the team’s wishes for aerodynamic development to influence car performance more strongly. This has always been their greatest strength. Red Bull has a budget to rival that of Mercedes and Ferrari but unlike those two teams it does not have to spend it on engine development.

So we have arguably the best chassis developers in the business, headed by superstar designer Adrian Newey, working to a set of rules they helped to write. It’s not unreasonable to wonder how long before the regulations were finalised did Red Bull begin serious work on the RB13, and therefore how much more time they’ve had to unleash their full potential.

Given that, anything less than a shot at the title this year would be a failure, regardless of how well they have kept a lid on expectations. The patchy running during testing, the lack of headline-grabbing lap times and the un-showy design of the RB13 has prompted claims the team are in trouble. But it all feels reminiscent of those times a few years ago when they would keep a low profile in testing then romp to another championship.

Helmut Marko has already conceded the obvious point that Red Bull stand to gain the most from this year’s changes. But will it be enough to bring them regularly on terms with Mercedes?

The team has arguably the most potent driver line-up on the grid today, and unlike Mercedes has the advantage of continuity. Further progress by Renault, whose power units will again be branded TAG Heuer by Red Bull, could also help tip the balance in Red Bull’s favour.

Renault’s gains appeared to have come at the expense of reliability during testing, though Red Bull dismissed the problems as minor and expects them to be rectified by the first race. Even so they completed almost 2,000 kilometres less than Mercedes over the eight days.

Ricciardo has said the team will have futher updates for its chassis and power unit at Melbourne and there is still a lot more to come from the RB13. Don’t bet against it.


3. Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Ricciardo obviously deserved more than the one win he scored last season. He should be in the hunt for victories again this year but a fully-prepared Verstappen will surely be the biggest fight he’s had on his hands since Vettel was his team mate three years ago. Not forgetting that Ricciardo came out on top in that particular contest.

33. Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Verstappen has tremendous speed and ferocious, effective racecraft (sometimes inaccurately characterised as reckless). Little has tripped him up so far, though he has occasional messy weekends, such as those which kept him from realising his potential in Monaco. But he’s still improving and was stronger than ever at the end of 2016.

Poll: Which Red Bull driver will finish ahead in the championship?

Which Red Bull driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Max Verstappen (38%)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (62%)

Total Voters: 193

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Nothing less than a title run will do for Red Bull”

  1. Should it be “being” and not “begin” in the second sentence? And “2017” not “2013” in the 6th paragraph?

  2. It’s not unreasonable to wonder how long before the regulations were finalised did Red Bull begin serious work on their 2013 design

    @keithcollantine, RedBull could make you favour and change the name of their cars to match the year.

  3. I think Max again will start on back foot a little compared to Daniel but as the season goes by he will just become Defacto Leader of RBR, i hope ric has other ideas though
    About them i think they have mostly relied on Renault than their aero package. If renault is good then they can fight Merc but it also depends on how much the (renault) upgrades in season will work and what kind of updates they will bring to Rival Merc PU development will define RBR.

    1. Ricciardo is good but Max is extraordinary. This boy at 19 has shown much more racecraft and talent then Ricciardo…and I do rate Ricciardo as one of the better drivers on the grid. That says something about Verstappen. Im scared for Ricciardo if Verstappen will grow even further this year.

  4. I’m slightly surprised that at the time of writing, the 38 votes are a strong 71% in Ricciardo’s favour. Of all the teams, I thought this is the one that would have their drivers evenly matched.

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      17th March 2017, 12:23

      Its the time zone mate, us Aussies all got in early LOL (we don’t have too many over here!)

      1. @evilhomer – ah, a good and fair point. :-)

      2. ExcitedAbout17
        17th March 2017, 15:35

        There’s still 1.4 Aussie to every Orange.

        1. Max surely won many of Brazilians hearts. At least in last years race ;) Hope there are many Brazilians here.

          My Vote to Max

    2. This website does love Ricciardo (and it’s not hard to understand why). Judging by how they ended last season though, I see no reason to rate Verstappen any lower than Ricciardo.

    3. Agreed, I expected a 50/50 on this one…

    4. 60/40 is the closest vote so far I believe.

      I voted for Max, I think he’s faster than Daniel but consistency will be a big question mark for the 19 year old.

  5. Evil Homer (@)
    17th March 2017, 12:21

    I think Dan will beat Max again this year but it wont be an easy battle, has to be the best pairing on the grid I think.
    But all top 3 teams are very strong and each of them can win races this year- that would be awesome!

    Daniel did step it up last year when Max come in which shows how good they both are.

    Dan for WDC title this year!! (I hope- bring it on) :)
    Melbourne from next Thursday- cant wait!!!

  6. I think Max will be unstoppable this year against his teammate. He’s going to move into a class of his own this year. He’s going to thrash anyone in similar machinery. That’s what I think. And what I’m hoping. For me he’s the most exciting thing about this upcoming season. With the wonderful-looking new cars, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited!

    1. nelson piquet
      17th March 2017, 15:00

      dude you’re overrating him

      1. formula needs it hype train to attract a new viewing generation, vestappen is the guy that will be looked to pin the hype to. I expect him to be comprehensively beaten by Ricciardo this season

    2. One day in 2013 Josh and Max Verstappen boarded the bus I was driving, they were with someone else. I had no idea who they were. If there is ever the sensation of God speaking to you it was when Max got on the bus, because God said “This is the world’s greatest driver, the greatest Formula One driver ever.”

      1. @drycrust, no offence, but surely it is way, way too early in Max’s career to start making such bold claims about him being the greatest driver ever.

        Yes, he has shown promise in the first few years of his career, but we are talking about a driver who is only entering his third season and is still learning about the sport. We cannot tell how he will adapt to the upcoming changes in the regulations and the new challenges he will face over the full length of the 2017 season, or even if he will manage to bear Ricciardo in 2017 (let alone what his rivals may do) – such hyperbolic praise at this point in time looks a little premature.

        1. No, it isn’t too soon. The pity is I should have declared the information sooner. If the information is from God then the information is correct and time will show it to be so. For best credibility information like this has to be put into the public arena ahead of time so people can judge it against the events that unfold, and if it is found to be untrue then the person stating it (in this case me) faces derision and scorn, and if it is found to be true then there is credit.

          1. as soon as you brought god in to your statement you completely discredited yourself

          2. @drycrust, I am afraid that, as steveetienne notes, the fact that you seem to be increasingly speaking about Max with the devotion of a religious fanatic (and I make that point seriously given you now have repeatedly invoked claims of divine revelations to support your claims) makes you look less credible than before.

            No, the fact that the Verstappen’s happened to once be on your bus wasn’t a “message from God”, as you seem to think it was. Nor, for that matter, does it mean that you now have some sort of mandate to “declare the truth”, as you seem to put it, with a slightly disturbing zealotry.

            The history of the sport is full of drivers who have been hailed as prodigious talents and great promise, but for various reasons never managed to succeed – some would argue that we are even seeing that now, with the likes of Hulkenberg stuck in the midfield when many argue that, on the strength of his junior career and drives in midfield teams, he is the sort of driver who should be challenging for championships instead of battling to just get into the points.

            There is currently a major financial incentive for Red Bull and for Liberty Media to hype up Verstappen as an antithesis to the current domination by Mercedes – and they certainly have done that to the full – but real life doesn’t have the habit of always nicely coinciding with what they might want to see happen.

        2. I was late in admitting that Ayrton was something very special – that took about half a season. So I’m not going to be so cautious about Max – he is very, very special. If the RB13 is any good at all, the battle this year will be between Hamilton and Verstappen.

          1. @clive-allen My thanks for your encouraging words and thoughts.

  7. i voted for max. i’m a big fan of DR but there were times towards the end of last year when he had no answer. i think with a full season together we should see more clearly who has the upper hand.

    1. @frood19 To be fair, there were times when Max had no answer to Ricciardo. Some examples are Singapore, Italy, Germany and Hungary.

      1. @mashiat,
        You mean Verstappen had no answer to his problems with the car. Only in Germany Ricciardo was truly faster. Singapore and Italy were pretty much blown for Verstappen at the start thanks to the clutch issue and in Hungary he was actually stuck behind Ricciardo which of course hurt Verstappen most during the pitstops.

      2. Arnoud van Houwelingen
        17th March 2017, 22:19

        That is cherry picking Mashiat .. there were also a lot of races where Daniel had no answer to Max as well .. you forgot Austria, Canada, Japan, England (Silverstone) and Brasil for example …

      3. Germany…. wasn’t that race Verstappen said ‘this was one for the team’ afterwards..?
        It took Verstappen just seconds to pass Ricciardo, the team directed Ricciardo in front thanks to pitstop strategy.
        Ricciardo had to be in front of both Ferrari’s before the summerstop.

        Hungary btw… Verstappen was told to stay out of DRS range, ‘I am driving like a grandma’ on the radio.

        RBR made a rule after the summerstop, the driver to be in front after one lap gets the best strategy.
        Baku, Austria, Germany and Hungary all where influenced by the team, in favour for Ricciardo.

  8. Here’s hoping the car is going to be good enough to allow both to battle for wins. Would be nice to see someone go toe to toe with Hamilton in races and not lose out constantly.

  9. Max easily. Can’t belirve Ricciardo has such a big advantage in voting. He’s one of those drivers that everybody in this forums seems to like (like Hulkenberg, Sainz)

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      17th March 2017, 13:13

      Maybe Kavin – don’t write the guy off as he has a big grin and is likeable – when the visor goes down he is game on.

      Look up what Michael Schumacher said of Dan Ric after Suzuka (maybe 2013??) when Shumi had new tyres and a faster car, and Dan kept him behind him. Michael has vey high praise for him, and he’s got better since!

      Max is a talent, no doubt, how good he gets we don’t know yet- some earn their ‘Potential, some don’t- he will though…………… but it even Senna & Schumi took a few years to beat the best.

  10. voted for Danny Ric, but this one will be MEGA CLOSE i think!

  11. It’s genuinely amazing to think that Red Bull has had such a fantastic roster of drivers, especially when you consider that they haven’t taken a driver that isn’t one of their own since 2007. The Red Bull academy is the F1 equivalent of La Masia or Ajax’s academy.

    1. To call Verstappen one of Red Bull’s own is a bit of a stretch though. They basically snatched him with the highest offer, he was only part of their youth programme for a week before he was confirmed at STR

  12. I voted Verstappen because he’s backed by Marko.

    1. nelson piquet
      17th March 2017, 15:02

      realistic opinion. ricciardo is already the number 2 driver, he just doesn’t know it yet

      1. i tend to agree but not on merit its the hype train – good for business. let us not forget that vestappens forst win was engineered by redbull – that race shouldve been ricciardos

        1. Then Ricciardo should have made his tyres last a little longer or driven away from a rookie who only spent 2 days in the same car prior to that race.

          Also, you’re suggesting Red Bull orchestrated Rosberg and Hamilton crashing?

          Your tinfoil hat is screwed on a little tight.

          1. Say, what? On the tyre strat the team gave him? They just goofed too many times for DR last year.

  13. Ben (@chookie6018)
    17th March 2017, 15:23

    I’ve heard the argument that Max was stronger than Daniel in the later part of the year but upon analysis, it’s hard to see it. After the summer break he was quicker in Brazil & Japan, but couldn’t compete in Singapore or Belgium with Dan. There’s no doubt Max has pure pace however without Red Bull screw ups Dan would have won 3 races & Max none. Just pointing out the facts with Spain, Monaco & Malaysia. I’m looking forward to the battle none the less.

    1. Belgium is like a home race for Max. Check what Happened before you claim “could not compete.” He couldn’t but thats because somebody took him out at start…

    2. Max was better on his tyres in Spain. He was quicker in the wet in Monaco even before Ricciardo got stuck behind Hamilton. He was quicker in Canada, Austria, Silverstone. He was much quicker in Spa qualifying but suffered floor damage at the start which hampered the car’s speed.
      He was quicker in the last 6 races of the year as well.
      Verstappen made more mistakes and sometimes his aggression cost him more than it gained him, like Spa and Mexico but I haven’t seen anything from Ricciardo last year that makes me think he’ll (easily) beat Verstappen this year. And Verstappen is STILL developing.

      1. Baron you are spot on….let the Aussies believe in their boy ;) Ricciardo will be no match this year. Verstappen will only get better and he is only 19 years young, while Ricci boy almost enters his 30ies

      2. Baron, looking back at the lap times for the Monaco GP, actually Verstappen was not consistently faster than Ricciardo.

        In reality, the lap times varied between the two drivers – Verstappen was sometimes faster, but on balance Ricciardo’s lap times were generally faster. It also has to be said it is odd that you are claiming that as a victory for Verstappen given he crashed out of that race due to making a mistake, and was severely criticised for repeatedly crashing during that weekend.

  14. @chookie6018

    Max was faster in Spa by a long shot, but did throw it away, but overall the whole weekend he was faster. Also he deserved the race win in Malaysia but Vettel hit him on lap one and the VSC lost him that win.

  15. Well, I’m abstaining from voting, because I honestly can’t decide. I really, really rate both of these drivers.

    Danny Ric is quickly becoming my favourite, in the absence of Jenson.

    Also, @keithcollantine has been on the sharper end of some people’s critique this week. No need, guys. If it wasn’t for all of his hard work, the very people complaining wouldn’t have a platform on which to complain in the first place.

    Keep up the excellent work, Keith!

  16. Guybrush Threepwood
    17th March 2017, 18:10

    Gonna be close I think. As a self-confessed Ricciardo fan I hope he wins, but realistically I think Max might take the chocolates by a very small margin.

    Either way its amusing to see opinion of Max change somewhat from the devine one who will conquer all to a driver who has the potential to be the devine one… Well Max will be in his 3rd season now so any excuses about needing more development or adjusting to the car will be thrown out the window.

    1. +1

      It’s gonna be real close between them this year. I still feel Dan holds the qualifying edge on Max, but Max has the ability to really pull stellar performances out of the bag (like he did at Interlagos last year).

      Honestly, it’s a 50/50 toss up. I voted for Dan purely out of sentiment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Max has the upper hand for most of the season.

      You’re right about Max’s development curve. I think he’s gotten to grips with Formula 1 already, and this is when he shows his hand.

  17. I’m expecting the RB13 to grow a multitude of appendages for Melbourne, the car just looks too clean compared to Ferrari and Mercedes.

    I feel like more durable tyres will suit Verstappen better, so I voted for him. Still rate Ricciardo highly though.

    1. All those appendages are there to bend flows , redirect etc. Maybe Newey makes better (cleaner) designs than others, where that’s not needed?High rake and nose openings to direct to under floor being​ some key features.

      In my years of engineering the most complex looking contraptions typically catch the eye as being smart. Untill you realize that they are one problem patched with another on top of another concept. The truly great designs are simple, few components, but with massive intelligence behind creating them!

  18. Sergey Martyn
    18th March 2017, 8:42

    I’m not a fan of Max but if Dan will keep his disgusting habit of drinking champagne from his boots I wish not to see him on the podium again.

  19. Based on points Ricciardo was on top in 2016 > 220 against 191, a difference of 29 points from Spain on.
    But truly….. Verstappen was unable to score in Spa (hit by Vettel resulting in car damage) and the US (DNF), Ricciardo scored 18 (Spa) and 15 (US), together 33 points. DO THE MATH.

    Italy, Singapore where troubled by clutch issues, add Malaisia to the mix and Ricciardo would have been far behind.

    I expect Verstappen not only to beat Ricciardo, I expect him to beat him by a long shot.

  20. I thought the signs were that it would be Red Bull who would take the fight to Mercedes, firstly with the rule book changes and also it seemed that Renault were making good progress with the engine.

    Although you can never read too much into testing it seems that they will not be challenging for wins on outright pace early on, and are currently only ranked third. If their testing form does prove to be correct I still think Red Bull will be able to develop the car through the season so they challenge for wins, but will it be soon enough?

    Red Bull’s driver line-up is the strongest on the grid in my opinion and it is probably the hardest one to call as to who will finish ahead in the championship.

    While last season Ricciardo was overall the better of the two I think it is only a matter of time before Verstappen surpasses him, the question is will it be this season? If Verstappen can continue his rate of improvement I think he can get the better of Ricciardo this year.

    If Red Bull can mount a proper title challenge that will add something else into the mix, as neither driver has been involved in a F1 title fight and it will also increase tensions between the teammates.

    It is one thing battling your teammate for podiums and the occasional chance at a victory, another when you are both fighting for the World Championship. You just have to look at the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg, the cracks only started to show when they were competing against each other for the title in 2014.

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