It was a rocky start to the year a for Red Bull. However, two wins in 2016 was more than they should have ever have hoped for, given the domination of Mercedes and the lack of a win for Ferrari.
The first podium came with the at the time controversial Daniil Kvyat in China. Former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel was less than pleased with the Russians driving in the first corner, which later became a trademark of the Germans season. That would have been his second to last race for the team, replaced by Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen in Spain.
What a debut it was too for Verstappen, winning his first race for the main Red Bull team at his first attempt. With a bit of fortune on strategy, something which teammate Daniel Ricciardo thought he was a bit shortchanged on, and some great driving to keep Kimi Raikkonen behind him in the closing stages to lead to his first victory.
The season was a great one for the Dutchman, often in the points and challenging the big names, and saw further podium positions in Austria, Silverstone, Germany, Malaysia, Japan and Brazil. It was that wet race in Brazil which won him much praise, coming through traffic and making unconventional overtaking moves in difficult conditions.
Daniel Ricciardo also had another amazing year, cementing him as one of the best drivers in the sport at the moment, although only made the top step of the podium in once, in Malaysia. It should have really have been twice, after his dominated the Monaco Grand Prix weekend and only missed out on a win there after a mix up in the pit stop demoted him to second.
It was a quiet start to the year though for the Australian, who notched up four fourth placed finishes in the first five races, but was a regular podium contender in the second half of the season with the car gaining a number of upgrades.
Saddled with the ‘Renault’ engine, the team were less vocal about the shortcomings in 2016, and were still better than the package Honda had given McLaren. There was still a performance difference though, notable on tracks like Baku at sea level or below with long straights.
Outperforming Ferrari this season was a great achievement, especially by 70 points at the end of the year. A renewed energy at Renault to have the best engine in the sport in a couple of years and the change of technical regulations next season will make sure that they are still contenders against the mighty Mercedes.