Leading up to the 2017 season opener in Australia, our own Paul Charsley will offer this special feature called Grid Walk in which he sizes up the intra-team battle with teammates going head-to-head. Who will have the upper hand? What to look for this season within the teams? Paul discusses all that more in Grid Walk.
This could be the 1st year since joining the big boy Red Bull team the smiling assassin truly has a chance of lifting the drivers championship and I wait in dread of what he would drink his Champagne out of should this come to fruition!
He is a very complete driver and what he has shown over the past few years has only built on a very solid foundation of maturity, race craft, speed and ability to keep a calm head and mouth when the chips are down and up. I’m not sure I can find any weakness in his game to be honest but we may see another side of the Australian should he be battling for wins every week.
One thing to really keep an eye on is the relationship between he and his team mate, the ultimate prize has a way of changing perspective and although they are all good fellas right now I have a feeling some antics from the other side of the garage could change some names on the Christmas card list. Remember it was Prost that encouraged Ron Dennis to bring Senna into the McLaren team (regrets I’ve had a few…).
That being said the battle to beat Mercedes could be just the medicine to keep the whole Red Bull team together and if they owe anyone anything it’s to Daniel. Of course there is no No.1 & No.2 status so strategies will be solely based on getting both cars to the best finish they can.
One thing is for sure he will need to keep a steely eye (that’s right I’m talking about Marko) on how those are handed out and he needs to be very strong in the team to not let it get away from him. Better mechanical grip from the new rules can only help him as he has a very creative mind when it comes to passing opportunities and I wonder if the much more draggy cars will take some of the effectiveness of DRS away (god I hope so) and give him a sharper tool to utilize.
Mad Max indeed, Mad as a fox (is that right?). Nothing this kid has done since he has come into the sport has been by chance or luck. He has a very strong mind and feel for his car as well as the race going on around him, be it dicing with other cars or reading his tyre management to perfection.
Just like his team mate, he is in a potentially Championship winning car this year and it will be very interesting to see how he handles himself. He also has a great skill when it comes to passing & defending should the track and rules allow but perhaps not as polished as Ricciardo. Experience is a very used up word especially when it applies (or doesn’t) to Max but unless you’ve seen every situation there’s a lower percentage that you can get it all right every time.
This I feel by the slimmest of margins gives Daniel the edge right now but if the Red Bull is as quick as a lot of people feel it will be, it could work in his favour as he can keep it simple by just running up front and not have to worry about the riff raff chasing him from behind. Is Max a future world champion? You bet he is! As long as the teams give him a car with a chance to do it.
I love the way he drives for the most part and to do things a little “different” is as hard to do in the car as it is designing them these days, but I would like to see just a little more restraint and patience. I have to be a bit careful what I ask for of course as we don’t want to take the X-factor out of the Max. With the more liberal rules of engagement on track for 2017 this could allow him to be even more adventurous but it could be a double edged sword and form a distraction to just solidifying his pace and pounding out the laps and the wins.