Updated May 01, 2018 10:31:27>
> Photo: Daniel Ricciardo was diplomatic, accepting some responsibility for the crash with his teammate. (AP: Luca Bruno)
For those who've followed Formula One for a while, Sunday night's crash between Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen has eerie parallels to the Turkish grand prix of 2010.
Back then it was a young Sebastian Vettel who clattered into his more experienced Australian teammate Mark Webber while fighting for the win.>
External Link: Excerpt from BBC documentary on Red Bull Racing about the 2010 Turkish GP
Vettel didn't finish the race and Webber still made it home in third.
In the final washout, Vettel went on to clinch the first of his four consecutive F1 drivers' championships at the final race of the year, while Webber finished the season third — the equal best result he recorded in his F1 career.>
External Link: Will Buxton tweet comparing Red Bull rivalries
Fast forward to 2018, and the 20-year-old Flying Dutchman, Mad Max, #MaxVercrashen (or whatever tagline you want to attach to F1's youngest-ever grand prix winner) is fighting tooth and nail for points with Australia's smiling assassin, 28-year-old Danny Ric.
The stakes this time appear lower, with the Red Bull team a clear third in outright pace to Ferrari and Mercedes, and Ricciardo and Verstappen outside the podium positions when they clashed and crashed out.
But Red Bull has made a big step forward this year, with enough pace to stay close to the top teams and harry them for wins when conditions, strategy or luck goes their way, as Daniel Ricciardo dramatically illustrated in China.
Should Red Bull, and especially their engine supplier Renault, continue to make advances, one or both of their drivers could conceivably challenge for the title.
But not if they keep taking each other out of races.
Rear-end blame game not so simple in F1
If you were out on the road, the cause of Sunday's crash would be clear cut — Danny Ric rear-ended his teammate, case closed.
But the rules of motor racing are designed to facilitate overtaking, otherwise faster cars and drivers would be perpetually blocked by slower rivals with track position.>
External Link: Formula One tweet: The @redbullracing boys dissect their collision in Baku... #AzerbaijanGP #F1
A key rule, both to assist overtaking and prevent dangerous accidents, is that the driver in front may only make one move across the track when attempting to defend from a rival trying to overtake them.
That way the driver behind knows they can go for a gap without it being unpredictably shut off.
If you look at the replay of the crash, it is clear Verstappen makes at least two moves, first right and then back left when Ricciardo looks to duck down the inside.
It's something Max Verstappen has been warned about several times before, and a near miss with Kimi Raikkonen at Spa in 2016 was very similar to Sunday's accident.
That is why most pundits, including Mercedes team (principal) and three-time world champion Niki Lauda put the blame 70 per cent with Verstappen and only 30 per cent with Ricciardo.
"If you move on him all the time where can the poor guy go?"
The accident had been brewing — much earlier in the race Verstappen made wheel-to-wheel contact with Ricciardo, while the Aussie was ahead of him on the outside, almost pushing him into the wall.
Had Ricciardo hit the wall, it is extremely likely the race stewards would've found Verstappen hadn't left him any racing room — unsurprisingly, squeezing other drivers off the track or into a wall is also a major no-no in the rules.
'No blame' even though accident 'originated' with Verstappen
Given the facts, and the two drivers' previous collision records, it seems surprising that both the Red Bull team and the stewards apportioned the blame equally.
In fact, it seems the stewards all but took their decision from Red Bull's press release.>
External Link: Max VerCrashen tweet
"Unfortunately, today has happened and there is no blame apportioned to either side," team principal Christian Horner said in the release.
"It was a racing accident between the two, there is not more fault on one or the other," the head of Red Bull's driver development program Helmut Marko told reporters.
"Both drivers contributed to the collision," the stewards' report noted.
"The driver of car 33 [Verstappen] made two moves, both of which were relatively minor.
"The driver of car 3 [Ricciardo] admitted he left his move to overtake on the left, too late.
"It was obvious to the stewards that although the incident had its origins in the moves by car 33, the driver of car 3 also contributed to the incident."
Reading between the lines, that sounds awfully like Lauda's assessment, except both drivers escaped sanction, notably the most responsible party, Verstappen.
Red Bull Racing's diplomacy may backfire
The danger with this no-fault approach by Red Bull is that Ricciardo is off contract at the end of the season.
There's little doubt Red Bull very much want to keep him, even though they have the option of pulling in Carlos Sainz — a very good and quite experienced driver — from Renault for 2019.
But it won't help the team's cause in hanging onto Ricciardo by praising him when things go well (China), while staying silent if it means criticising Verstappen (Baku).
"He's hit that balance of experience and pace," Christian Horner said of Ricciardo after he won the Chinese grand prix with a series of daring overtakes.
"He's one of the best overtakers in the business and his judgement is impeccable in terms of judging a gap, getting the car stopped and getting it rotated.
"I feel he's in a different part of his career to where Max is at the moment, who is still very young and fresh and going through that experience."
That comment makes one wonder what Red Bull would have been saying had it been Hamilton or Vettel who moved across in front of Ricciardo rather than his superstar teammate, the current golden boy of F1 and a marketing dream for the team and sport.
And it isn't the first time Verstappen has prematurely ended his teammate's race.>
External Link: Verstappen takes out Ricciardo in Hungary 2017
From Ricciardo's perspective, time is running out to get into a car that can win a world championship and there's a big question mark over whether that will be a Red Bull in the next couple of years.
There's also a real question over whether Red Bull is a team of equals or whether Verstappen is now the favoured driver for the future.
This is the advice from Nico Rosberg, a man who knows what it takes to beat a multiple world champion teammate.
"Where would I drive if I was Daniel Ricciardo?" he said on Sky Sports.
"I would go to Ferrari because he knows he can beat Vettel, and they have the best car at the moment."
While former F1 driver and longtime commentator Martin Brundle sees an even more radical possibility.
"Let me throw this outrageous curveball," he told Sky.
"Hamilton doesn't seem particularly happy at the moment, and I can imagine he will be super expensive to hire for his next Merc contract too.
"If that isn't already signed, would Mercedes go for the four-and-a-half-year younger Ricciardo instead?"
While Mercedes has misplaced its dominance of the past four years so far this season, its mammoth budget and top-shelf engineering team seem likely to keep it consistently on the podium and fighting for championships for the foreseeable future.
Although, if Danny Ricciardo has anything like the luck of his Aussie predecessor at Red Bull, the season he leaves the team will be the year it produces another dominant car to sweep to the title.
First posted April 30, 2018 16:43:58
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-30/daniel-ricciardo-and-max-verstappen-the-new-webber-vettel/9710402