Ongoing engine woes and a chassis that suffered its fair share of problems combined to deliver a 2017 Formula 1 season that fell well short of expectation at Red Bull.
Finishing third with 368 points, Red Bull’s 2017 season was one that fell well short of expectation, even if there were a few high points. The popular choice to challenge Mercedes after a strong finish to 2016, 2017 started on a markedly different foot for the four-time world champions, as the team found themselves not just well behind the Silver Arrows, but also a resurgent Ferrari. Compared to previous years in the V6 era, it was not just their Renault engine that was letting them down, but also a chassis that suffered from missteps in both approach and design.
Finishing the season with three wins – their most since 2014 – it certainly wasn’t all doom-and-gloom, but the points speak for themselves. Not only did they score 100 less points than 2016, and saw their deficit to Mercedes slightly increase (297 last year, 300 this year), but they weren’t remotely close to Ferrari either, finishing 154 points behind them despite the Scuderia’s own reliability woes and a driver partnership arguably half as good. Undeniably, 2017 was nothing short of a letdown.
Will they bounce back in 2018? Certainly you’d be unwise to count-out a team with Red Bull’s pedigree, but this year showed that nothing is a given. Of course, a large factor (as it always is) will be the quality of Renault’s engine supply, but now we’ve also seen the design team have an off year, and that raises even more questions for an outfit already short on answers.
Despite his unlikely win in Baku, it’s hard not to characterise Ricciardo’s 2017 as anything other than frustrating. Besides the obvious reliability woes – six DNFs, including three of the last four – the Australian also struggled in his battle with Max Verstappen, losing the qualifying head-to-head 13-7, and having to watch on as the Dutchman snagged two victories of his own in the season’s second half. Still, even if it wasn’t his most successful season in the sport, there’s no denying his place as one of the sport’s preeminent racers, as he repeatedly delivered the goods on Sundays, while also building up a catalogue of overtakes that was nothing short of ridiculous.
With apologies to Star Wars:The Last Jedi, no story this year has been as inconsistent as the season endured by Max Verstappen. Spending the majority of 2017 enduring the sort of bad juju usually reserved for those who desecrate indian burial grounds, the Dutchman was bounced prematurely from seven of the first fourteen races, but then finished the season with two wins in Malaysia and Mexico that were nothing short of dominant. Combine his late-season results with his year-long advantage over Daniel Ricciardo, and it’s clear the 20-year-old has deservedly earned superstar status.
2017 WCC Position: 3rd – 368 points
2016 WCC Position: 2nd – 468 points
Wins: 3 (Daniel Ricciardo, Azerbaijan; Max Verstappen, Malaysia & Mexico)