MAX VS DAN:
Advantage Ricciardo… for now
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.