Dec.28 (GMM) The shock retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg is a big boost to Daniel Ricciardo's title chances.
That is the view of Ricciardo's Australian countryman Mark Webber, who thinks his Red Bull successor is among one of the very best in the sport today.
"Daniel was probably the most consistent driver in the field this year and he's absolutely world class, in the top three drivers," he told The Age newspaper.
Many are expecting Red Bull to be strong in 2017, given the team and part-time designer Adrian Newey's tendency to get new regulations right.
And Webber thinks a weaker Mercedes will simply boost Ricciardo's title chances even more.
"He (Ricciardo) is in a position to go again next year and certainly vie for the championship if Red Bull can get the car together," said Webber, "because Nico is virtually impossible to replace in the short term at Mercedes.
"Nico and Lewis (Hamilton) 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," he added.