The car in front is Redbull Honda
Redbull had a pretty interesting season in 2019, we had 3 drivers, interesting contract stipulations and most importantly race wins.
The Riccardo Effect
Daniel Riccardo’s decision to move to Renault for the 2019 season caused a few ripples within the F1 driver market, not least at Redbull.
Right up until the moment the Riccardo announced that he was leaving Redbull, they were pretty confident that he would re-sign for them and it would be business as usual for 2019.
With Riccardo heading to pasters new and the Redbull Young driver pool now a puddle, Redbull had tricky situation to deal with. Would they bring in someone external to the driver program? Or hire from Toro Rosso?
It was announced that Pierre Gasly would take over the seat, moving over from Toro Rosso.
2018 was an OK season for Pierre Gasly, finishing in 15th in the drivers championship with 29 points comfortably ahead of Brandon Hartley in the sister Toro Rosso.
How to solve a problem like Gasly?
Redbull started 2019 with Gasly partnering Max Verstappen. The team is geared towards Max with Gasly to be used as a “rear gunner “.
The pressure would be squarely on the young French driver could he handle it?
Unfortunately the answer was no.
Gasly just could not get to grips with the Redbull RB15. He was constantly out qualified by his teammate, only beating Verstappen once during the season.
Although it was never expected that Gasly would challenge the front runners, he was expected to be closer to the front, if Verstappen was to trip up, then Gasly would be around to minimise the damage for the team.
As the summer break was rolling around, Gasly was sitting in 6th with 63 points, in comparison Max Verstappen had 181 points, 2 race wins, 5 podiums and a pole position.
Redbull lost patience with Gasly and demoted him back to Toro Rosso, with rookie Alexander Albon heading to the Redbull seat.
Max Verstappen had a solid season with Redbull, as one of the most consistent drivers on the grid, he was there or there about for most of the season, with some commenting that if the Mercedes team lost some dominance as the season went on then Max would be in a great place to pick up the spoils.
Verstappen winning races must have been a relief for some within Redbull, if reports were to be believed, Max Verstappen had a performance clause in his contract that allowed him to break his contract if he wasn’t winning races by a certain point in the season.
The car in front is a Honda
Honda had a coming of age season with Redbull in 2019, after a torrid time with Mclaren, they partnered with Toro Rosso for the 2018 season, after the 2018 season Redbull saw enough progression for them to take Honda for the main Redbull team for 2019.
The Honda power unit showed that they were competitive throughout the season, with Verstappen in the car they were mostly at the front of the grid. It took to the Austrian GP, where Max Verstappen won the race ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. This gave Honda their first race win since Jenson Button won the 2006 Hungarian GP.
Their were tears of joy from the Honda personnel within the F1 paddock, who could blame them after the negativity from the Mclaren partnership.
Proving that the win in Austria was not a fluke Redbull Honda also won in Germany and got their first pole since the 2006 Australian GP at Hungary.
Max Verstappen won in Brazil to cap off a pretty decent season for him, however Redbull are winners and they want to challenge for the title.
With the 2020 season starting in Austria, a track that Redbull like, this could be a good chance for them to take the challenge to Mercedes. The Honda Power Unit is fast and reliable and Ferrari seemingly falling back, we could see a Mercedes/Redbull battle for the Championship.
Max Verstappen has the talent to be a champion, he now has a car that is performing, with a fast rookie in the other Redbull car, this could be an interesting season for the Redbull team.