Ricciardo and Verstappen are given a reality check in Azerbaijan

A seventh and an eighth place finish for Red Bull Racing at the European Grand Prix on Sunday certainly put paid to any ideas that they were ready to mix it at the front of the F1 grid again.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 2:15 pm
Updated Friday, 24th June 2016, 3:08 pm
Max Verstappen finished eighth in Baku

Despite costing Daniel Ricciardo two chances of victory, despite Max Verstappen winning the Spanish Grand Prix and nearly stepping on the podium in Canada, the performance of the RB12 in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku will bring the team at Tilbrook firmly back down to Earth.

It was hardly an ideal start the Grand Prix, with Verstappen’s car being taken apart to find an oil leak, and Ricciardo smearing his car up the barriers - both coming in the first free practice session.

Ricciardo’s impressive qualifying performance gave the team some hope though. Although he set the third fastest time, exactly the same as former Red Bull man Sebastian Vettel, he was promoted to second after Sergio Perez’s grid penalty.

Daniel Ricciardo cut a disappointed figure in Baku

Verstappen’s difficult weekend was compounded with a ninth place start.

Neither really set the world alight though when the lights went out.

Ricciardo gradually fell down the field, while Verstappen, who made up a few places at the start, also worked his way down the pecking order.

The long pit-straight in Baku - measuring more than 2km in length - highlighted just how much they were down on power.

Daniel Ricciardo cut a disappointed figure in Baku

Street circuits have been a great leveller for Red Bull in recent years. Since the rule changes in 2014 set the team back, the team have thrived on their strong aerodynamic package.

Daniel Ricciardo’s win at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix was testament to that, while he was on the podium in Singapore last year too, and he should have won in Monaco last month.

Red Bull’s positions in Baku were only bolstered by Force India’s decision to keep Nico Hulkenberg out on track, despite his aged tyres.

Both Red Bull cars were able to pass the 2015 Le Mans 24Hr winner in the closing stages with relative ease, courtesy of newer rubber.

Ricciardo though was under no illusions that a seventh place finish at a circuit he qualified second just a day earlier at was good enough.

Going into the European Grand Prix, Red Bull may have fancied their chances as establishing themselves as the third best team in F1, behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

However, given their mistakes in recent races costing them victory and losing podium finishes to teams who looked out of the running until race day, Red Bull should not be resting on their laurels.

With back-to-back home races on the horizon, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and then at Silverstone, the Tilbrook squad will be keen to impress in front of their own. They cannot afford more performances like in Baku.