Can Daniel Ricciardo go all the way in Formula One in 2017?

Formula One packs up and moves on with a speed and scale unrivalled by any other sport. So is it any wonder that with champagne still soaking Nico Rosberg’s side of the Mercedes garage at Abu Dhabi, attention has already turned to what comes next?

Rosberg’s “one race at a time” mantra in tackling his brilliant but erratic teammate Lewis Hamilton finally won him the ultimate prize and possibly not a moment to soon.

New regulations are coming and the field is gaining – particularly the Red Bulls of Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch wunderkind Max Verstappen.

By winning 10 races to Rosberg’s nine, Hamilton could easily have won his third consecutive title on Sunday, but some poor racedays combined with the worst of the mechanical failures in 2016 left him a mere five points adrift.

Next year, new regulations on aerodynamics and tyres will mean faster speeds and potentially bring Mercedes back to the pack. If it all ended tomorrow for Hamilton and Rosberg, no one would argue that a two-one title result over the past three years is not a fair result.

So what can we expect the scorecard to be for Red Bull in 2020 once the Ricciardo v Verstappen rivalry has had three years to play itself out?

There’s little doubt that Ricciardo is considered one of the best racers on the grid. No less an authority than former world champion Fernando Alonso made that clear last month when asked who he thought had the chops to tackle Mercedes’ dominance.

Ricciardo’s well deserved third in the 2016 title race came after 18 months of dealing with an underpowered car. The time spent under pressure also underscored the character and charm that has won him a legion of fans that cross international boundaries and team allegiances.

On Channel Ten’s broadcast ahead of Sunday night’s race Ricciardo said he’d had more highs than lows this season and happily conceded that in Formula One, if you can say that about your season, you should probably be happy.

It was a point not lost on 1980 world champion Alan Jones, who said Ricciardo was now well placed to capitalise on his brilliant racing and people skills.

“Since they’ve given him that upgraded Renault engine he has responded, well the team has basically, they were virtually getting nowhere, but since that upgraded engine was made available to them, boy they have really utilised it,” Jones aid.

“I think that certainly next year [engineer] Adrian Newey will give them a good car. They’ve got wider wheels and tyres, they’ve got upgraded aerodynamics so I think they’ll be in a good place next year.”

But the key words here are “they”. Ricciardo is not only racing to catch up to Rosberg and Hamilton, but will be spending much time in coming years trying to fend off his own teammate.

Verstappen’s move to Red Bull when the team demoted Daniil Kyvat was immediately rewarded with a debut victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. It was the first of several rueful days for Ricciardo when strategy within his own team, combined with Verstappen’s maniacally aggressive racing, saw him finish behind the younger man. The pitstop debacle in Monaco only further heightened his desire to climb to the top step again.

The pair appear to have formed a good working relationship, but there’s little doubt that Verstappen is taking no prisoners in his quest to get to the top and stay there. His battles this year against the Ferrari drivers were explosive and on Sunday Rosberg’s tensest moments came when trying to pass the unpredictable Verstappen.

The season ended with Ricciardo winning a Grand Prix in Malaysia and eight podiums in total, while Verstappen – having joined Red Bull in round five – had a win in Spain and seven podiums.

This has to leave the Australian aware that it could be now or never in his quest for a title. If Red Bull can give him the car he needs in 2017, he must ram home his edge in experience and calm before Verstappen knocks his own rough edges off.

If Red Bull does turn out a car with the potential to win a world title next year Ricciardo may well find himself in the same situation as the Mercedes drivers – taking things one race at time, with strategy and luck playing a role in deciding who comes out on top.

“It must be an amazing feeling to be world champion,” Ricciardo said in congratulating Rosberg after Sunday’s triumph. “They both pushed each other until the end and it’s nice to see the title go down to the line like that.”

Careful what you wish for, perhaps?

“Looking at the season overall I’m super happy and very pleased with the year. It’s definitely been more highs than lows this year with a lot of podiums, satisfying races and a good chunk of points,” Ricciardo said. “I got amongst it when I could so I think it was a good 2016 for sure.”

And what comes next when the lights do out on March 26 in Melbourne?

“I’m not going to get too caught up with thinking about next year, but if we woke up in February for testing and the car’s quick then you’ll see me fighting for it (the title).”

Ricciardo clearly knows he’s not the lone ranger.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲培训.

Comments are closed.