Mark Webber reckons Daniel Ricciardo will again have the edge this season over team-mate Max Verstappen.
Webber described Verstappen as an “unbelievable” talent, but added the young Dutchman is still learning, while Ricciardo has “more composure” and more experience.
Indeed Verstappen has only competed in 40 races – and only joined Red Bull last season ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in May. In contrast, Ricciardo has 109 starts to his credit and made his F1 debut back in 2011 with HRT – knowledge that should help him adapt quicker to the new formula for F1 2017.
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“It will be tight, as it was at the end of last year,” Webber told Motorsport.com
“I think Daniel still has more composure. Obviously that experience will be very useful for him, particularly in the early part of the championship. When you have seen more regulation [changes], like he has done, driven different types of cars, that is an advantage for him.
“It is going to be a good battle there. But the composure side is a big plus for Daniel. He has got plenty of fire too, and it is all about putting the weekends together. Max is still learning, with that unbelievable talent.”
Webber also added the new rules could help Red Bull end Mercedes' three-year domination.
“I think Red Bull have had a quiet winter and they're going to be quite strong,” he added. “It really depends on who unlocks these new regulations. Traditionally, Adrian [Newey, Red Bull's chief technical officer] has been very good at that.
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“Mercedes have had the luxury of closing out the constructors' championship very early last year, so that gives you a big chance to put your resources into the next year's programme earlier than anyone else potentially. They have a very good engine, we know that's their main strength.
“Operationally, Red Bull were the best team last year. With reliability they were the best team, Mercedes had a few technical challenges. So if it's nip and tuck when down to the fine points – Red Bull are very good at that.”
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