Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

Red Bull win twice on the track and once off it

2016 F1 season review

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Red Bull spent the 2015 season repeatedly threatening to quit Formula One as they struggled with an uncompetitive Renault engine.

In 2016 all was forgiven and forgotten. The Renault was more competitive, the team took a pair of wins and regained second place in the constructors’ championship. Their former talk of quitting was quietly ignored.

Red Bull team stats 2016

Best race result (number)1 (1)
Best grid position (number) 1 (2)
Non-classifications (mechanical/other) 6 (5/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,404 (94.72%)
Laps led (% of total) 116 (9.14%)
Championship position (2015)2 (4)
Championship points (2015)468 (187)
Pit stop performance ranking3

Renault power unit upgrades and Red Bull’s enviable pace of aerodynamic upgrades brought the RB12 into victory contention. But it was an upgrade to their driver line-up which provided one of the year’s most surprising stories.

After four mostly difficult races Daniil Kvyat lost his seat to Max Verstappen. The shock move was inevitably criticised but almost immediately vindicated.

Despite minimal running in the RB12 Verstappen hit the front after the two Mercedes drivers took each other off the track. He and team mate Daniel Ricciardo had the two Ferraris bearing down on them, Red Bull split their strategies to ensure all options were covered, Verstappen ended up on the better one and the 18-year-old made history.

Monaco should have been their second victory in a row. Ricciardo flew through the streets of the principality and became the only non-Mercedes driver to start a race from pole position. But the team fumbled his final tyre stop, caught in two minds about which compound to use, and a likely victory was thrown away.

Ricciardo eventually got his win in Malaysia. However merely being in contention for victories had come as a surprise according to team principal Christian Horner.

“We came into the year thinking, ‘you know what, to get into the top five will be difficult’. But the guys have produced a great car. The people at Renault have done a good job with the engine over the winter. Our season has just grown stronger and stronger.”

Yet arguably Red Bull’s greatest success all season long came off the track. In 2015, despite enjoying the strong support of Bernie Ecclestone, they had been unable to overthrow F1’s engine regulations in favour of a formula which suited them better.

But their lobbying for a radical change in Formula One’s aerodynamic rules, allowing them to capitalise on their key strength as a team, was successful. It could prove the final piece in the puzzle which restores them to being championship contenders.

With an improving Renault engine and arguably the best driver line-up in F1 today, next year promises to be even better for Red Bull.

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2016 F1 season review

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 11 comments on “Red Bull win twice on the track and once off it”

    1. And I thought they won twice this year @keithcollantine

      1. It wouldn’t be a Keith article without needless mistakes.

      2. twice on the track, once off it… what is hard for you to understand here?

    2. That win in Spain immediately quieted the criticism of swapping Kvyat and Verstappen. Just imagine if Monaco had been Verstappen’s first race in a top team.

      They have a fantastic line-up for 2017 and I really hope we get a close Mercedes-Red Bull fight at the front.

      1. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if Monaco was Verstappen’s first race with Red Bull! But it still probably would’ve been a matter of time before he established himself as one of the top guns…

      2. Yes, Lucky he was gifted the Spanish GP on a strategy call.

        1. Mercedes strategy of letting their drivers fight?

          1. Yes that and the fact that both Ferrari and RBR got the presumed quickest strategy wrong.

            Both theams put their first drivers (Vettel and Ricciardo) on the prefered strategy (3 stopper), and their second drivers RAI and VES on an alternate strategy (2 stopper), but got it wrong. Both VES and RAI kept their tyres alive and VET & RIC never made it back to the front.

            VES did great to keep his cool in a new car for him with RAI within 1 second on his tail for over 15 laps. That’s no mean feat (Trevor seems to want to suggest it was for some reason)

    3. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
      22nd December 2016, 13:34

      Next year Red Bull is the team I’m watching for.

    4. No wonder Mercedes weren’t keen on having them as a customer …

    5. Hehe, we will see if Red Bull knows better than Renault, what to wish for.
      Would be real funny, if they would be outsmarted by somebody in the aero department, as Renault got that by Ferrari and Mercedes with an engine formula, the french were lobbying for.
      Yeah, I’m disillusioned, but really hate, when rule changes are made not for the sake to improve the sport and spectacle, but as a favour because a team had better lobbying power than others.

    Comments are closed.