Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s 2017 Formula One team preview series! Today’s penultimate preview focuses on the only other team besides Mercedes to win in 2016, the Red Bull Racing squadron.
Red Bull Racing
No. 3 – Daniel Ricciardo
No. 33 – Max Verstappen
2016 Team Points Finish: 2nd (468 pts.)
2016 Highest Race Finish: Wins in Spain (Verstappen) and Malaysia (Ricciardo)
MILTON KEYNES, U.K. — After the downturn in fortunes that was 2015, Red Bull Racing came back in a big way last year, in no small part thanks to Max Verstappen, the high school-aged driver who won his first race in the team in Spain after replacing Daniil Kvyat five races in.
Kvyat might have showed the car’s performance off with a third in China, but in his anxiousness to get in the hunt on the first lap of his home race in Russia, Kvyat took out Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, and with Verstappen doing everything right in the Toro Rosso, it was not hard to see the writing on the wall for the Russian.
Verstappen’s win in Spain was an impressive, metered drive from the young Dutchman, but his fearlessness — despite showing itself at the wrong times — was the best part of the season, at least in this reporter’s mind. His magnificent drive in Belgium, despite the incident (which was not really his fault) with both Ferraris, was reminiscent of anything done at Spa by late, lamented Scottish sheep farmer Jim Clark.
At times, it may have seemed like Ricciardo was in danger of being crushed into F1 oblivion by his younger teammate, but the heir to Mark Webber in the “easy-going Aussie” department proved he still had it with his win in Malaysia. He might have won Monaco, too, if not for an unready pit crew on lap 32 of 78, one lap after Hamilton pitted for slicks.
After squabbles with Renault in 2015, the power units from the French manufacturer were renamed “Tag Heuer” in deference to sponsorship from the luxury watch manufacturer. The engine held together well, with just two mechanical problems in 2016 — Kvyat’s electrical-based DNS in Melbourne and Verstappen’s gearbox failure at COTA.
While suffering sensor and exhaust issues during the first four days of winter testing this year, the second session of testing saw just a preventative engine change in order to keep running to collect data. Distance-wise, Red Bull could only manage seventh, logging 684 laps for 1,978 miles.
Time-wise, Verstappen led the team, finishing sixth after eight days with a best time of 1:19.438, 0.804 seconds off of Kimi Räikkönen’s 1:18.634.
Ricciardo was ninth with a 1:19.900, 1.266 seconds off Räikkönen’s time.
Heading into Melbourne, the team is looking very good for at least a podium. Verstappen’s speed is key to the success, but Ricciardo’s consistency will keep him in the running at the end. Red Bull is primed to be a winner in 2017.
For more information about Red Bull Racing, visit http://www.redbullracing.com/en_US.
For more information about the Formula One World Championship, visit https://www.formula1.com/.
About the Writer
Jack Cobourn is the international motorsports correspondent at Race Chaser Online, and covers the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Rally Cars, Formula One and the FIA World Rally Championship.
Cobourn has been an avid follower of motorsports for years, having not missed a Formula One race in 16 seasons. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in history and a minor in journalism.
Email Jack at: Jack.Cobourn@yahoo.com
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