Webber has always been a big fan of the man that succeeded him at the Milton Keynes-based outfit, tipping his countryman for the supreme title sooner rather than later.
“Daniel was probably the most consistent driver in the field this year and he’s absolutely world class, in the top three drivers,” Webber told The Age newspaper.
Many are expecting Red Bull to make the most of the 2017 regulation change and banking on Adrian Newey’s genius to pen once again a winning car. With Mercedes weakened by Rosberg’s departure, in Webber’s view, Ricciardo’s chances appear considerably boosted.
“(Ricciardo) is in a position to go again next year and certainly vie for the championship if Red Bull can get the car together, because Nico is virtually impossible to replace in the short term at Mercedes.
“Nico and Lewis drove each other to be better, but now they won’t have that all-star lineup. Lewis is brilliant and absolutely ruthless, but this will shake up the F1 market.”
The upcoming season will see the introduction of radical aero changes as well as wider tyres from Pirelli. Laptime gains of up to five seconds are expected, though some high-profile figures in the paddock have raised doubts about the figure.
“Personally I don’t think the driving style will change massively,” Bottas was quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Obviously with more grip, some of the lines will change, and some of the corners will be flat out instead of a small lift.
“So I think the approach with some of the corner combinations and the lines can change. But I don’t think the corner will go quicker, I don’t think it will change much.
“But I think the main challenge at the moment is in the longer runs, to try to keep the tyres in a good condition.
“When you wear tyres, handling the torque, getting out of corners and being sensitive with the right foot and avoiding slides, is more important. That’s the main challenge at the moment.”
Bottas, who has reportedly visited Mercedes’ factory as he moves closer to a 2017 deal to replace Nico Rosberg, has already had the opportunity to get a first glimpse of this year’s machinery in the Williams simulator.
“It is quite a lot faster in the corners, I like it,” the Finn commented. “Higher corner speeds are always nice, and more traction, grip and downforce is good.
“It comes with less speed on the straights, but it doesn’t really matter – so it feels okay.”
Lewis Hamilton has only failed to beat a team-mate in F1 on two occasions, being outscored by Jenson Button in 2012 before Nico Rosberg took the drivers’ championship this season.
Daniel Ricciardo says he will see out his contract with Red Bull despite the vacancy at Mercedes, but when asked if he thinks he could beat Hamilton in a straight fight he told The Age in Australia: “Absolutely.
“It’s something that I’ve been asked a few times – who would you love as a team-mate and all that – and Lewis was one that I was always saying. Obviously I think that he is massively talented and … I think we would have a good fight, and, yeah, I’d have confidence that I could get the job done.”
With Hamilton saying during the FIA Prize Giving in Vienna that he feels Ricciardo is the driver he is most similar to and hopes to spend more time with socially in 2017, the Australian says they get on well but are far from close.
“It’s a tough one. He’s never had anything bad to say about me. He’s always been nice to me, but sure he has days where he likes to keep to himself.
“Some days we’ll chat and other days we won’t and that’s just that. But at the same time, it’s, sure I’ve made a few friends in the sport, but it’s not our primary purpose of being here so I’m not expecting him to call me … and he’s not expecting the same from me. It’s just how it is, he’s got his own things going on … he’s sort of doing his thing really.”