In Spain, Mercedes’ mistake afforded Red Bull the opportunity to snatch victory. Just two weeks later it was Red Bull who, having dominated the weekend, made a costly error to allow Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to take his 44th race win.
Such is the speed at which fortunes can change in motorsport, pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo saw his maiden win at the Principality slip away, when a miscommunication between pit wall and garage saw him arrive in his pit-box, while his mechanics were still fumbling over which compound of slick tyres to fit.
Elation on Saturday became heartbreak on Sunday for the Aussie.
Max Verstappen’s breakthrough victory at the Spanish Grand Prix took the motorsport world by surprise. His already lofty stock has risen considerably in the past two weeks. The teenager’s new team Red Bull are certainly returning to form, out-qualifying both Ferrari’s in Spain and are preparing to fit an upgraded Renault powerunit into the RB12, which promises to deliver around half a second per lap of performance.
Daniel Ricciardo certainly capitalised on home advantage last weekend, as he took his Red Bull RB12 to fourth position. However, being in Australia had no bearing on the power output of the TAG Heuer branded Renault powertrain, as Ricciardo was seemingly able to compete on the straights – something the team have been unable to do in this era of the sport.
Having finished just 24 seconds off the lead despite being on a decidedly compromised strategy, Red Bull seem set for a stronger 2016 campaign.
The first pre-season test came to a close on Thursday and early assertions in regards to the probable pecking order are being established. While the ultimate performance of many packages is yet unclear, Mercedes seem in good stead to enter Melbourne with the strongest package after bullet-proof reliability saw them complete an astonishing 675 laps over four days.
There incredible start to 2016 with the W07 has led Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to concede that they are already out of reach – at least in the opening rounds of the season.
Red Bull have become the second team to showcase the work of their graphic designers this winter, revealing the livery for the RB12 – their 2016 challenger – at an event in London this evening. With Infiniti having departed and taken their purple paint with them, this year’s Red Bull looks decidedly different compared with its predecessors.
A parting gift for Red Bull but a litmus test for Renault?
Inevitably, as the nights begin to draw in across Europe, teams and engine manufacturers are driving towards 2016. After all, stretching the purse strings to add improvements to a car which is destined to spend the majority of its future as a museum piece is hardly a viable option. As such, developments are made with next year in mind and in the case of Red Bull and Renault, attention has been firmly on 2016 for quite some time. The eleven tokens spent by Renault ahead of this weekend’s US Grand Prix are most likely to be with a eye to a works team future in mind – a litmus test for the unit which could power the first fully-fledged Renault F1 Hybrid.
It is quite remarkable that the driver billed to be the most naturally talented of his generation by many analysts, had never taken a pole position around F1’s most iconic circuit. However, Lewis Hamilton has addressed this oversight today, claiming a maiden Monaco pole position in style, recording two laps which were both good enough for top spot. Nico Rosberg seemed the favorite to win this particular act in the Mercedes inter-team scrap, as Lewis struggled through the opening two segments, but the German could not match his teammate in Q3, with his final attempt to usurp him scuppered by a lock-up into Sainte Devote. In the most important qualifying session of the year, it was Hamilton who hit the jackpot.