Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Red Bull pair may end Mercedes" three-year reign

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen 

Their time is coming. Perhaps as early as December next year, Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen could well find themselves the newly-crowned Formula One world champion. It won’t be easy for either of the Red Bull pair to end Mercedes’ three-year reign.

The German marque has won 51 of the 59 races in that time. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will also head into 2017 fired up to reclaim his lost title, even if Nico Rosberg’s sudden retirement means he can never wrest it back from the German. His new teammate, whoever that turns out to be, will be equally keen to prove what he can do in top-line Grand Prix machinery.

Nevertheless, the sport is set for sweeping rule changes next season that could upset the formbook. F1 cars are set to feature wider tyres, wider front and rear wings and other revisions to their aerodynamics that will make them more aggressive-looking and up to five seconds a lap quicker.

The emphasis in the new regulatory era is set to shift from the engine back to aerodynamics as a performance differentiator. That is an area that Red Bull, under the guidance of design guru Adrian Newey, have historically excelled in, meaning Ricciardo and Verstappen could well find themselves driving a car capable of challenging for the title.

But are they ready? Neither have fought for the championship before. Indeed, Verstappen has only two seasons’ worth of F1 experience under his belt. Yet, it is hard to argue that they’re not. Ricciardo surprised many by outdoing Sebastian Vettel during their sole year together at Red Bull, winning three races even as the reigning triple champion failed to mount the top step of the podium at all.

Both Ricciardo and Verstappen head into 2017 having enjoyed their best seasons to date in F1. Their pursuit of the title, with the added element of a rivalry between them within the Red Bull camp, will only spur them to greater heights. It might be too early to say. There are still months before a wheel is turned in anger. But F1 could find itself with a second new champion in as many seasons this time next year.

Previous Post
Next Post

post written by: