I view these two guys at Red Bull as the most exciting drivers on the grid. For me, the speed of the drivers over 2016 exaggerated the team’s success. While I believe their car was good, the engine was still a fair way off. With Verstappen, Red Bull even managed to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Added to that the undeniable fact that poor strategy and team work denied Ricciardo two more wins.
The excitement that both drivers bring to the track is exhilarating at times. In my opinion, Ricciardo and Verstappen are by the best two racers in the current field. Their belief and ability provides some truly electric overtaking action to the fans. In 2016, the Red Bull team made 136 overtakes through the season, with Verstappen setting a new record for overtakes in a season with 72 with both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
I think the decision to replace Daniil Kvyat with Verstappen early in the year was cerebral, but firmly justified by Max’s performances right through the year. I don’t remember him having a bad weekend. He posed an immediate challenge to Ricciardo, which was duly accepted by the Australian. The rivalry served to boost the performance of both men and maximised the absolute potential of the Red Bull car.
Next year, I can see the experience gap between Ricciardo and Verstappen diminishing. Not that Max has ever used his lack of experience as an excuse, he hasn’t needed to. But I think now that he has the experience of driving for victories at a top team, there is nothing the Dutchman hasn’t done. I still believe Ricciardo is the better all round driver. He has a relentless speed in both qualifying and the race. He should have far more wins to his name already. And bearing in mind he has driven for Red Bull through their downward turn, now they are set to return to the top I can see Ricciardo becoming an early contender for the championship.
Looking to the future you have to say this driver pairing with win World Championships. Retaining their services at Red Bull however will be a much tougher prospect, and one that I’m sure will a priority for those in charge. They will both be major force in 2017, the car looks set to be strong, and should the team be challenging for wins, it is going to serve up some truly classic racing