Three wins from 58 starts has reportedly fueled speculation that Team Red Bull is leaning in the direction of Max Verstappen as its F1 driver of the future, casting Daniel Ricciardo’s future into limbo.
Verstappen won the 2017 Grand Prix of Mexico recently, apparently motivated by the FIA stewards that took a podium finish away from him the week prior in the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
He escaped unscathed, either by mechanical or penalty issues, when he started the Grand Prix of Mexico by playing bumper cars with his rivals, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who have won eight world championships between them.
Vettel and Hamilton collided in the second turn, even though Hamilton left space for Vettel and Verstappen to duke it out for the lead, but Hamilton was the one who suffered a deflated tyre, Vettel the one to sustain serious front-end body damage, while Verstappen got off scot-free.
Ricciardo has had more than his share of bad luck as the 2017 F1 season nears its conclusion, just as Verstappen did in the early going of the year, but now many seem to think that Verstappen has stolen the prime seat from Ricciardo, much as Ricciardo himself did when he took over from Vettel.
Ricciardo is contracted for next season, but he may find a spot with Mercedes or Ferrari, which will greatly enhance his chances of being truly competitive in the season standings, as opposed to driving his behind off and hoping to be in the right place at the right time when Mercedes or Ferrari falls on hard times during a race.
There is also some speculation that Team Red Bull is getting ready to debut a new power plant, one that is quicker and more reliable than the current Renault one upon which they have relied, but along with that speculation comes the rumour that the upgrade may be steered in the direction of Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo.