Three wins from the first half of the 2018 Formula 1 season doesn’t quite tell the whole story for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in the opening twelve races as they sit third in the Constructors Championship.
The RB14 has 223 points to its name but should arguably have many more if it was not for on-track incidents and reliability issues with the Renault Sport power unit.
However, the biggest talking points in the first half of 2018 have been decisions that will not just have an impact on next season, but the remainder of this with the move to Honda and the departure of Daniel Ricciardo.
Red Bull have had to wait for their chances this season and continue to struggled to take the final step up in qualifying to rival Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport as evidenced by their one pole position this season coming in Monaco, a track which balances the power units out better than any other circuit on the calendar.
2018 has been very up and down with many points being left on the table due to incidents for both drivers, most notably the crash between Ricciardo and Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which eliminated both cars but on the other side, a home win at the Red Bull Ring along with redemption in Monaco.
3 | DANIEL RICCIARDO | POINTS: 118 | POSITION: 5TH | BEST RESULT: 1ST (X2)
Another solid season for the Australian so far in what will be his last for the team after his announcement that he will be joining Renault Sport Formula One Team for next year.
The second driver to win a race this year after Sebastian Vettel as he provided an overtaking masterclass in Shanghai to win as he took advantage of the safety car to pit for fresh tyres and storm his way to the front.
It is no secret that Ricciardo is thought of as one of the best overtakers in the sport and the Chinese Grand Prix only gave more evidence of that and pushed him back up the standings after a fourth placed finish in Australia was followed by a retirement in Bahrain.
From a terrific victory, Ricciardo and Red Bull were brought down to earth in Baku as the Australian hit the back of team-mate Verstappen at turn one after a race long battle between the pair. That saw a second DNF in the first four races and five of the past eight races as he continued his bad luck from 2017.
The start of the European season saw Ricciardo finish fifth before Formula 1 arrived in Monaco.
Redemption was the theme for the whole weekend as the Australian went about setting the record straight after being denied victory in 2016 and replicated his pole position on the Saturday.
A tremendous drive on the Sunday despite having power issues gave him his second win of the season and the last time, for the first half of the season, he would be on the podium.
Two fourth places in Canada and France was followed by another DNF, this time at the team’s home race saw any hope of a title challenge fade away.
A fifth and fourth place finish sandwiched another DNF as Ricciardo admitted the summer break was “coming at a good time”.
However, the Australian had a bombshell to drop at the start of the summer break as he announced his departure presenting an interesting dynamic between him and team for the rest of the season.
33 | MAX VERSTAPPEN | POINTS: 105 | POSITION: 6TH| BEST RESULT: 1ST
For a while 2018 looked like it could be the season where Verstappen’s star would be extinguished as he made mistake after mistake in the opening round leaving many to wonder if he could have been a threat in this championship.
A spin at the Australian Grand Prix meant he got stuck behind the McLaren F1 Team of Fernando Alonso and couldn’t get by before contact with Lewis Hamilton forced him to retire in Bahrain as he made his way through the field after crashing in qualifying.
China will go down as victory for his team-mate but the Dutchman handed the opportunity to him on a plate. An overambitious move on Hamilton cost him track position before a collision with Vettel meant what could and probably should have been a comfortable second was a fifth place.
There was no doubting his ability, but his style was being severely questioned after retiring in Azerbaijan due to the incident with Ricciardo meant he had to wait till the Spanish Grand Prix to set foot on the podium.
The Monaco Grand Prix brought fresh criticism as he let slip another potential victory with a crash in Free Practice 3 meaning he had to sit out of qualifying.
Podium finishes in Canada and France showed to his critics he still had the ability before taking full advantage of a Mercedes strategic error to win in Austria.
Victory at Red Bull’s home race moved him closer to his team-mate in the points standings but he was unable to follow that result up as he retired at the British Grand Prix.
The final two races before the summer break saw a fourth place in Germany before a power unit issue in Hungary forced the Dutchman to finish early and launch a verbal attack on the Renault power unit over the radio.
The second half of the season gives Verstappen the opportunity to take the number one slot in the team with the departure of Ricciardo and the Dutchman will surely hope to add to his one win this season.