Ricciardo reportedly set to sign for Red Bull

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Reports from the German media last night claimed that Daniel Ricciardo has won the race to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next season, with an announcement due in Belgium next weekend.

Webber confirmed at the British Grand Prix that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season and walking away from Formula One in favor of a move to Porsche’s newly-revived LMP1 programme, which will see the Australian driver race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next season. However, this did spark a race to fill his vacant seat, with Red Bull originally shortlisting Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen for the seat before ruling Vergne out of the running.

The thinking behind the decision for Red Bull has always been relatively simple: Raikkonen is the quicker driver but may upset the internal relationships at the team (i.e. Sebastian Vettel); Ricciardo would not, but is not as able as Raikkonen. Also, snubbing Ricciardo would undermine the use of Scuderia Toro Rosso as a feeder team.

According to German publication Sport Bild, the team has refused to deny that Ricciardo is on the verge of signing for the team whilst making more vocal comments over the likelihood of Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen making the move. Team advisor Helmut Marko has also marked the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps as being the date after which more information will become apparent.

Red Bull are known for wanting to confirm their driver line-up earlier rather than later, making an early announcement feasible.

This news would also trigger the formation of next season’s driver market, allowing Antonio Felix da Costa to take up the second seat at Red Bull alongside Vergne, although questions still hang over Felipe Massa’s head as rumors circulate suggesting that Kimi Raikkonen could be looking for a way out of Lotus.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.