Webber’s view on the 2017 Red Bull F1 battle

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on the podium at Hockenheim last year

Mark Webber says that composure and experience stand to give Daniel Ricciardo an important edge going into the 2017 Formula 1 Championship.

Ricciardo prevailed in a tight battle with Verstappen who arrived at Red Bull for the fifth race of the season in 2016 at Barcelona after the Dutchman and Daniel Kvyat traded places at Toro Rosso.

The Australian has proven a prodigious talent in the Red Bull seat since he took Webber’s drive in 2014 after the grand prix veteran retired from F1, opting to switch course and begin a rewarding factory drive with Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.

Webber says that while the rivalry will remain tight between Ricciardo and Verstappen, he feels the former holds an advantage.

Teams and drivers face a fresh challenge in 2017 with the introduction of a raft of technical changes highlighted by bigger tyres, different aero packages and more powerful engines.

“I think Daniel has more composure. Obviously that experience for him will be very valuable in this early part of the championship,” Webber said.

“He’s seen more regulations and different types of cars and that is an advantage for him.

“It’s going to be a good battle there. But I think the composure side will be a big, big plus.”

Webber says that while Ricciardo carries a casual and calm veneer on the outside, the West Australian has plenty of fire and brimstone.

“Dan still heats up don’t get me wrong,” Webber added.

“You don’t get to that level without having the fire. He’s got plenty of that.

“It’s putting the weekends together. Max, thank god, is still learning. (but) He’s an unbelievable talent what he’s done.”

Webber remains guarded over whether the new technical adjustments will see Mercedes continue to dominate for a fourth consecutive season.

“I think Red Bull have had a very quiet winter and they are going to be very strong. It really depends on who unlocks this new regulation the best.

Traditionally Adrian (Newey) has been very good at that.

“Mercedes have had the luxury of closing out a championship very early in the constructor’s so that means you have a big chance of pulling your resources onto the program for the next year earlier than any else potentially.

“They’ve got a very good engine, we know that and that’s their main strength.

“But operationally Red Bull were the best team last year, reliability they were the best team and Mercedes still have some technical challenges.

“If it’s nip and tuck and down to fine points Red Bull are very good at that.”

Melbourne again plays host to the F1 opener with the Australian Grand Prix scheduled from March 24-26.

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