Are Red Bulls' drivers making a challenge?

By on Thursday, July 12, 2018

Max Verstappen’s victory at the Austrian Grand Prix has highlighted the unpredictable nature of the 2018 Formula One season. The Dutchman secured his first triumph of the campaign to move into fifth place in the standings for the Drivers’ Championship. For once, the race for the crown appears to be wide open heading into the second half of the term, although Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are separated by only a point in first and second respectively. As a result, the chasing pack of Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen have work ahead of them to close the gap with 12 races left in the campaign.

The success of Red Bull has made the Formula One season more interesting to watch as Mercedes’ dominance at the top of the sport has finally been challenged. The German outfit have won the Drivers' and Constructors’ Championships for the past four seasons, with Hamilton winning three titles and Nico Rosberg the other. Vettel seems to be the top contender to break the trend, although the group behind him and the Brit are not a million miles away. Verstappen is backed in the latest F1 betting odds at 100/1 to snatch the crown – the same price as his team-mate Ricciardo.

Both drivers have battled their issues with their Red Bull over the past two seasons. Erratic driving and mechanical problems limited their ability to make a meaningful challenge in the 2017 term. However, Ricciardo and Verstappen are starting to prove their quality on the track to put pressure on the leading group, with three victories between them. The two Red Bull drivers usually find their form towards the end of the season, especially in the case of the Dutchman, last term, when he recorded two victories and a second-place finish in the final six races.

Ricciardo had to endure one of the frustrations of Red Bull when he suffered the third retirement of the campaign. The Australian had six forced retirements last term, which prevented him from making a challenge for the crown. He finished down in fifth place on 200 points – a step back from his performance in 2016 when he placed in third in the standings ahead of the two Ferraris. The 29-year-old has the talent to make a surge to challenge at the top of the 2018 standings as proven by his performances in China and Monaco. However, Red Bull cannot afford to let their driver down in his attempt otherwise it may hasten his exit from the team.

Verstappen’s run of form towards the end of last season hinted at how special he could be behind the wheel. His displays at the beginning of the current term have been underwhelming, but he has been gradually improving in his last three races, claiming three-straight podiums. He finished third in Canada, second in France and now has his victory in Austria. Maintaining the standard of those performances will be key for the 21-year-old. The Dutchman has the pedigree, although this season may just be a tad early for him to get over the line.

If you liked this post then share it with your friends on social media websites. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest F1 news.