Ad­van­tage Ric­cia­rdo… for now

F1 Racing - - COVER STORY -

Max Ver­stap­pen’s 2016 was sen­sa­tional. Pick­ing up where he’d left off in 2015 as one of the hottest rook­ies ever to grace F1, he won his first grand prix on his Red Bull de­but and pro­vided some of the sea­son’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments.

There was his bril­liance at Spa and In­ter­la­gos, his fierce bat­tle with Ric­cia­rdo in Malaysia, and his in­cred­i­ble come­back in Abu Dhabi, fea­tur­ing a fe­ro­cious dice with soon-to-be-world­cham­pion Nico Ros­berg.

Such was Ver­stap­pen’s ex­cel­lence that Ric­cia­rdo’s own un­doubted tal­ent was al­most over­looked. But as an anal­y­sis of their qual­i­fy­ing per­for­mances re­veals, Ric­cia­rdo was the quicker qual­i­fier; he also took Red Bull’s only pole that year, at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Over the course of 16 qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions from Spain to Abu Dhabi (and dis­count­ing Monaco, where Ver­stap­pen started from the pit­lane af­ter a mono­coque change), their head-to-head tally was 10-6 in Ric­cia­rdo’s favour. His av­er­age qual­i­fy­ing ad­van­tage was 0.282s over Ver­stap­pen and the largest mar­gin was at the Euro­pean GP in Baku – 1.604s – although Max’s best lap there was com­pro­mised by Valt­teri Bot­tas’s Williams.

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