The 2016 Season has barely finished, but Daniel Ricciardo is already looking to 2017. Such is the nature of Formula 1. You never look back and always look forward. One couldn’t blame Ricciardo for looking ahead slightly more than others. 2017 sees new regulations in F1. Regulations that put more emphasis on aero and aero just so happens to be Red Bull’s wheelhouse. So for Red Bull’s Drivers that is cause for excitement as they should finally close the gap to all-conquering Mercedes.
However, Ricciardo tempers his excitement with one, rather odd statement, “I’m not naive.” But what is this in reference to? Well Ricciardo is already anticipating being on equal footing to the Mercedes men, thus Daniel and his teammate Max Verstappen will be fighting for more wins. Wins will ratchet up the intensity between the 2 drivers. Ricciardo believes that intensity will only increase tension between the two drivers as they fight for more wins.
“Well, I’m not naive,” Ricciardo said when asked if he sees the dynamic between the two Red Bull drivers changing next season. “If we’re fighting for wins I’m sure the pressure and tension will rise – but hopefully we’ll be able to look each other in the eye and say ‘good job’ afterwards.”
Ricciardo and Verstappen both won races last season, but all too frequently they were no match for the might of Mercedes. Fighting for 3rd or 4th is a whole other beast to fighting for wins. In Malaysia, we saw the Red Bull men locked in a battle for victory that if Ricciardo is to be believed, you will see a lot more of next season.
“I know for sure that when we were side by side we were both thinking it was our position and the other guy was in the way. We were going for it 100 percent. But I think we both knew the limit of the car and our responsibility to the team. You trust your own ability but also the ability of the other guy.”
Ricciardo is a talented driver, but he has to see what has been going on last season and specifically after Spa. Verstappen is on the rise in a big way. Ricciardo is worried it is only a matter of time before he gets relegated to 2nd driver status. Much in the same way his countryman Mark Webber did with Sebastian Vettel. That only increases tension leading to what could be a similar situation to Mercedes last season. Both drivers going for it, both drivers seeing their own teammate as an obstacle, something blocking them on their way to a Driver’s Championship. As a fan this could get very interesting, but as a Red Bull team member you have to be slightly worried.