The pre-season testing rhetoric is almost parallel to last season regarding the top three. Ferrari emerge from the Circuit de Catalunya on terms with Mercedes, and Red Bull have quietly clocked their laps in the background.
At the Australian Grand prix last season, pre-season expectations became reality as Ferrari battled with Mercedes for the top spots, Sebastian Vettel finishing the race less than a second behind Lewis Hamilton in second, with Rosberg some eight seconds ahead, claiming the win.
But the long game of the season fell firmly into Red Bull’s favour. The team emerged as the greatest threat to Mercedes as the season went on, and Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were the only drivers to win a race in 2016 besides the Silver Arrows drivers. Daniel Ricciardo spoke to Mobil 1 The Grid about the upcoming season opener and his desire to win on home soil:
Ricciardo also added,
“This year they have named a grandstand after me, the Ricciardo Premium Grandstand with views of turns three, four and five, which is pretty cool. It’s another bit of motivation for me to do well and I will of course give the fans a wave. It’s great to have such positive support and I’ve heard the tickets sold out pretty quickly for the stand. I will definitely embrace the weekend, have some fun with it and try and give the fans a reason to celebrate on Sunday.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
The Aussie achieved a fourth place finish last season around Albert Park after qualifying eighth, 1.7 seconds down on Hamilton’s pole position. It will be interesting to see if the Red Bull carries the same trait this season, somewhat behind in Qualifying, but much deadlier in the race, when it matters. If the Bull’s can qualify in the top six, don’t be surprised to see them contesting the podium positions at least.