Red Bull are back on the right track

Daniel Ricciardo was third in 2016

Daniel Ricciardo was third in 2016

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Two wins, 16 podium finishes and second place in the constructor’s championship - 2016 was a return to form for Red Bull Racing.

A year in the wilderness in 2015 sparked rumours of the Tilbrook team withdrawing from the sport completely, but fast-forward a year, and those thoughts couldn’t be further from their minds.

Max Verstappen turned Red Bull's season on its head

Max Verstappen turned Red Bull's season on its head

With engine development under their own management, the excuses couldn’t be laid at the door of Renault any more, and any blame would have to be laid in house. And it paid off.

After a solid start to the season, Red Bull were on the podium in the third race of the season, courtesy of Daniil Kyvat - but it would be his last meaningful contribution at Tilbrook.

An early season driver change, replacing Kvyat with Max Verstappen threatened more unease and disruption, but the teen made an immediate impact not just on the track - winning his first race for the team -but off it too.

The paddock’s hottest property made the headlines for both positive and negative reasons, but his performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix highlighted just what an inspired move it was to promote him from Toro Rosso.

Forced to up his game as a result of Verstappen’s super-stardom, Daniel Ricciardo amassed eight podium finishes and a win - which could have been two but for a dodgy tyre stop in Monaco costing him the victory - and romped away to a comfortable ‘best of the rest’ behind the duelling Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and world champion Nico Rosberg.

He was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on Hamilton’s engine failure in Malaysia to take victory, leading home his team-mate for the team’s first 1-2 finish since 2013.

The turn-around not only saw Red Bull climb from fourth last season to finish second this time around, but saw them more than double their points tally from 2015.

Now, all eyes turn to 2017 and mounting a challenge for the titles they last landed three years ago.

Changes to the rules and regulations mean the playing field could be levelled out considerably, ending Mercedes’ three year reign of dominance.

And given their performance in 2016, Red Bull will want to be at the very front of the queue.