Daniel Ricciardo doesn’t believe there will be much difference between the on-track action seen in the upcoming 2017 Formula 1 season than there was during last year’s championship.
F1 has introduced a new set of chassis regulations for the 2017 season, which have created larger and more aggressive looking cars that are several seconds faster than their predecessors thanks to the higher levels of downforce produced by the new aerodynamic devices. This has led to fears that there will be fewer overtaking moves and less exiting racing.
But in a wide-ranging interview with the Australia-based EFTM website, Ricciardo expressed his belief that the action will be at a similar level to the 2016 season, although he explained that the higher downforce levels could lead to some drivers struggling to get through the hotter events at peak performance.
He said: “I don’t think there will be a whole lot of difference with the racing itself. Obviously we’re going to be lapping quicker but will that mean more overtaking or more action, incidents, [and] mistakes? I don’t know; I’m not sure.
“Hopefully it is at least as good, but we’ll see. I think if it is as fast then the hot races in particular will be really physical, and maybe if you get some drivers that aren’t as well prepared as others you might see towards the end of the race a little bit of action.”
By opening up the chassis regulations to allow greater aero freedom, F1 allowed the teams to pursue new paths in pursuit of downforce. Several squads – of which Ricciardo’s Red Bull team is one – opted to reintroduce the shark fin engine covers last seen in F1 in 2010. Other teams, including Mercedes, Ferrari, Haas F1 and Williams, have added another small aero device – dubbed the ‘T-wing’ – in front of the rear wing.
These structures have not been particularly well received by some F1 fans and paddock observers, but Ricciardo described how he would welcome ugly innovations so long as they added speed to his car.
He said: [The] T-wing is new. I’ve never heard or seen this – maybe people knew about this before, I don’t know, but I’ve never seen it.
“The shark fin, I think Red Bull ran it a few years ago when Mark Webber was around, Mark and Seb [Vetttel]. It looks ok – I’m kind of like ‘as long as it’s fast, it can look like anything’.
“But they look interesting. I think most people say that the shark fin is not as attractive as the curve at the end of the [engine cover], but the T-wing is interesting, for sure. It kind of looks like a weather radar – one of those things that you see on top of some of the trucks. It looks a bit weird, but whatever.”
Living and laughing with Max Verstappen
One of the most anticipated stories of the 2017 season is expected to be the evolving relationship between Ricciardo and his team-mate Max Verstappen, who is starting his first full season with Red Bull after joining the team ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
The pair currently has a positive and friendly relationship, but that could be put under pressure if regular chances of race wins crop up or a world championship battle intensifies.
But, with no sign of tension so far, Ricciardo described how they get on within the Red Bull environment.
He said: “We try and keep it fun, for sure. It’s business but at the same time it’s a big part of our life so we have to find the fun moments and the more relaxed moments in it otherwise we’d probably be bored of it.
“Max is good. I certainly see some things, like – I’m still pretty immature – but he’ll laugh at things that I’m like ‘it’s not that funny’. So that’s where he’s definitely young.
“But it’s cool. We’ve got a good environment and Red Bull have got a good way of letting us be who we are as well. They don’t try and control us and say ‘say this or do this’ – within reason of course.”
Watch the full Ricciardo video interview with EFTM’s Trevor Long below
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