Whilst Pirelli’s failure to deliver on their tyre brief once again robbed F1 fans of a truly exciting race, but given the current winds in the Red Bull family, speculation has again increased that they will be the one’s supplying Ferrari with a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen at the end of this season.
Christian Horner though has repeatedly made clear this year, that Daniel Ricciardo going nowhere in 2017 and again was catagoric about the RBR’s future driver line up when questioned by Formula1.com in Montreal.
“Q: Press speculation has suggested Daniel’s contract could come to an end this season, prompting more rumours of a potential Ferrari move…
CH: …wrong, it does not come to an end this season,” Horner insisted.
“Q: Does that mean you will race with the same driver line-up in 2017?
CH: Yes. But not just 2017!”
Given that Max Verstappen is now ignoring team orders from the Red Bull Racing pit wall as he refused to allow Daniel Ricciardo past during the 2016 Canadian GP; and that he did so with impunity, then it would appear the line-up Horner refers to will be Ricciardo and Verstappen.
That said, Red Bull’s Aussie driver has been highly frustrated with the team in recent weeks, pretty much costing him two wins whilst handing one to his rookie understudy. Many F1 observers see Max’s Kudos on the rise whilst Daniel Ricciardo’s is waning somewhat despite him out qualifying his young team mate in the three race weekends they’ve shared the same garage.
So is Daniel Ricciardo Ferrari’s target to replace Kimi Raikkonen next year after what will surely be his last season in Formula One?
Despite what Christian Horner claims, Daniel Ricciardo may see the writing on the wall for him at Red Bull Racing because of a certain Max Verstappen. The Dutch youngster is the F1 media darling at present and even when he ‘totals’ his precious RB12, the recriminations appear to be few, if there are any at all.
Max is portraying ‘young’ Vettel-esque characteristics which greatly endeared the German to his factory based servants. At times the Red Bull Racing employees would discuss Vettel with utter devotion, worship and exaltation – Seb could do no wrong and Webber was perceived as the necessary evil within.
The question is does Danny R really want to fight this kind of internal popularity contest? So his eyes may well be firmly set on Ferrari – hence the repeated questions arising from the F1 media.
However, we must remember Ferrari tradition is to have a number one and number two driver and whilst Vettel and Raikkonen claim this is not the case with them, when push comes to shove Maranello will lump all its efforts behind the German who has positioned himself into a place of driver dominance. So, how would Vettel respond to the Scuderia considering the recruitment of his old team mate, the ‘honey badger’?
After all, it could be argued Ricciardo’s comprehensive defeat of Vettel in their year together at RBR chased the German out of his family home and into the arms of the Red Team. Sebastian is unlikely to want to relive those moments of his career over again and would surely oppose a Ricciardo to Ferrari plan.
This leaves the age old question of who would Ferrari consider? Maranello don’t do rookies and apart from Romain Grosjean, there’s no one driving for a Ferrari customer team who could be deemed worthy of such a high calling.
Well according to Alain Prost, the man who many believed to have been passed over in recent weeks is the one who should be set to join Maranello as a replacement for Raikkonen.
Carlos Sainz had less than an inspiring Saturday in Montreal which culminated on him dumping his Toro Rosso into the wall of champions in Q2, which together with a 5 place gear box penalty saw him start P20 in the grid. Yet with grit and determination and some smart strategy, ‘Chilli’ Sainz made his way through the field to claim P9 and two points at the chequered flag. Meanwhile his team mate Kvyat who started P15 could only manage to make up three places to finish outside the points
Sainz was P16 after the first lap of the Canadian GP. This became P11 on lap 17 after he cleverly used his first pit stop to undercut others around him. Probably set to be F1.com#s driver of the day, Carlos Sainz justified Alain Prost’s backing earlier during the weekend.
When asked by Minute-Auto.fr who he believed should replace Kimi, the quadruple French world champion was adamant: “I think Sainz. It is always a question of balance and who would work well with (Sebastian Vettel), but I’d choose Sainz.”
The irony of Carlos ‘chilli’ Sainz being passed over by RBR and ending up in Ferrari would be difficult for a certain Christian Horner to bear. Yet, the reality is once again the Red Bull young driver programme is delivering and so who do you the TJ13 jury believe will replace Kvyat and Sainz at Toro Rosso for 2017?