What next for Verstappen and Ricciardo?

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing speaks with members of the media. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images).

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    As Ferrari’s title bid flounders, Red Bull is in the midst of a revival, yet it faces difficult questions in the coming twelve months related to its own future plans, as its current roster contemplate their options.

    Incumbents Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are tied to the squad next season, with an option on the latter through 2019, though uncertainty regarding the energy drinks company’s ongoing presence in Formula One means both are already posturing for alternative employers.

    Particularly in the latter’s case, the Dutchman’s campaign having been neutralised by chronic reliability issues, however it remains to be seen whether the Milton Keynes outfit’s recent improvements have restored his faith in the regime.

    Helmut Marko last week admitted to Auto Motor und Sport that Ricciardo “is already on the market. We have to look for alternatives. We will not be unprepared”, the Australian having joined the squad in 2014. Yet what must be answered initially is the elephant in the room. More precisely, elephants in the room.

    Red Bull’s impending engine supplier Honda’s fortunes, and more pertinently, own plans in the category beyond 2020, leaves it vulnerable to both drivers seeking a competitive ride and foremost, long-term security.

    Should offers surface, both may be unwilling to bide their time gauging the success of the Japanese manufacturer’s collaboration with Toro Rosso, while an unlikely continuation with current supplier, Renault, may not fill either with much confidence despite the works outfit’s notable inroads.

    That Aston Martin has signed on as its title sponsor, creating a pathway to an eventual transition to manufacturer capacity if and when Red Bull pulls the plug, appearing significant on the surface, is academic. Ricciardo and Verstappen have been patient, though this has an inevitable threshold.

    It’s no secret that Mercedes and Ferrari are heavily courting Verstappen, the former having narrowly missed out on acquiring his services prior to his 2015 debut with Toro Rosso. At 20, time is on his side, yet the loyalty present from long-time Red Bull junior, Sebastian Vettel, isn’t applicable to the Dutchman, who was only recruited months prior to bursting onto the scene.

    Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull laughs during an interview with Formula One reporters.

    (Aron Suveg/Red Bull Content Pool)

    Ricciardo will be 29 once he becomes a free agent, and is entering the prime of his career, thus he won’t want to surrender his potential with an ambivalent employer regardless how it is performing. From a marketing perspective, the Australian is an attractive proposition, notwithstanding his esteemed racecraft.

    The accepted convention that Verstappen is marginally faster than Ricciardo could shape their respective futures, though it’s unlikely to ever reach a Vettel-Mark Webber dynamic – where the latter was an explicit second driver, culminating in several incidents which require no exposition.

    It’s been noted that the pair share a brotherly bond away from the track, while belying the reality that they’re not contending for the title. When this changes, the intimacy can be anticipated to cease. Whether this could occur as soon as next season is unknown, yet it’s unlikely to influence the final decision surrounding each’s next move.

    Team principal Christian Horner spoke of a desire to “retain both of our drivers, I would say until 2020.” The only prospect of this being realised is for the outfit to commit to the long-haul with a focus on excellence rather than what’s best for the Red Bull. Failing this, Carlos Sainz faces repatriation regardless which shape they’re in, for whichever duration it remains.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • October 13th 2017 @ 3:51pm
      steve said | October 13th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

      Who has Daniel been ” flirting ” with in regards to his next move that was alluded to by the Sky commentators after the last Grand Prix? They all seem to know who he has been talking with.

      • Roar Guru

        October 13th 2017 @ 4:55pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | October 13th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

        Ferrari is the obvious answer, though Mercedes is a smoky considering his solid rapport with Hamilton and Wolff. Renault would also be extremely keen to get its hands on him if they’re on the verge of breaking through in twelve months.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 5:56pm
      steve said | October 13th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

      I would have thought that Ferrari at least was the obvious answer as Kimi’s replacement, though isn’t Ocon talked about as the next in line for Mercedes? I actually would prefer him to get a chance at Ferrari, and seeing as Sebastian Vettel supposedly has a veto on his teammate, the logical answer for the team would be Daniel, as surely Sebastian Vettel would prefer him to Max. I actually wouldn’t mind that Daniel landed at Renault, as long as they are ready to step up for race wins and a title challenge being that Daniel is in the prime of his career and driving ever so well. I truly believe he is the second best driver on the grid behind Lewis at the moment. You would also think that should Renault get its act together with a genuinely competitive package, it would be a smooth transition for both Red Bull and Renault, Sainz gets his shot in the main team and Daniel slides in to his seat. You would think his first choice would be Ferrari though.

      • Roar Guru

        October 18th 2017 @ 11:38am
        Bayden Westerweller said | October 18th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        Ocon is certainly favoured within the Mercedes family, with a strong claim also from Renault which has played a large hand in his development. Yet Verstappen is the huge carrot dangling which could supersede the Frenchman, the Silver Arrows would love to have him having missed out last time.

        Ricciardo would in many respects be a better fit at Renault if they are firing in twelve months time, as he’d enjoy unquestionable leader status unlike at Ferrari, where Vettel rules the roost, though it would make for an undeniably formidable combination if it came to pass.

    • Roar Guru

      October 14th 2017 @ 8:50pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | October 14th 2017 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

      It’s all a game of patience, which unfortunately is seldom practiced in Formula One. If the talks about Red Bull leaving the sport are true at the turn of the decade and Milton Keynes turning into a factory Aston Martin team are true, then someone like Dan should show loyalty and perhaps will be rewarded. Your argument is always related to his age and how he’ll be in his early to mid-30s before that happens, but I just think of Nigel Mansell (without that baggage he carries of course).

      • Roar Guru

        October 18th 2017 @ 11:40am
        Bayden Westerweller said | October 18th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Ricciardo would need a guarantee that Aston’s entry is happening for him to commit, and to wait a further two or three seasons to be in a title contending car. It’d be unfair to expect him to sit around until that’s possible just to say he’s loyal when he is already in the prime of his career whilst others have enjoyed the opportunities for championships by being in the right place at the right time at a much younger age.

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