Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that his toughest teammate is current Red Bull partner Max Verstappen, ahead of four times F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel with whom the Australian teamed up with in the energy drinks team for a season.
The Australian made his Formula 1 debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix with HRT alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi. In 2012 he was partnered at Toro Rosso with Jean Eric Vergne, a year later he was promoted to the Red Bull team alongside Vettel.
In 2014, Vettel departed for Ferrari, with Daniil Kvyat promoted from Toro Rosso. But that partnership ended at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix when Verstappen replaced the Russian at Red Bull.
Ricciardo and Verstappen have remained teammates since then and the Australian says the teenage Dutchman has been his biggest challenge.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Seb,” Ricciardo told Channel 4. “He is and was and still is a great driver, but I believe Max is the toughest teammate I have had. Hopefully he says the same for me!”
The duo have had their on track moments, notably the Hungarian Grand Prix when the Aussie was punted off by Verstappen on the opening lap of the race as they jostled for position.
Clearly angry on the day Ricciardo, who suffered an instant DNF while his teammate was able to continue, immediately radioed his team: “Someone hit me. If that’s who I think it was…”
During the interview in Singapore the 28 year old recalled the incident, “The marshal was pulling me off the track, I was like ‘don’t touch me’, I really wanted to wait for Max to drive past. In the heat of the moment I may have said some things… but I still feel that I handled myself all right.”
But the pair made up shortly after the race when Verstappen sought out Ricciardo to apologise, “We’ve moved on. Obviously I was upset but that was out of my control, so what more can I do?”
“He apologised like a man, that was important. We had a private sit down, pretty much like we are now but without the cameras, and we spoke so that was important.”
Both the highly rated drivers have been given no favours with the current Red Bull package which is firmly third in the pecking order and rarely seriously challenge Ferrari and Mercedes.
Nevertheless, against the odds, Ricciardo scored a victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
“I’ve got to make the most of what I’ve got right now and I feel I have. When I do get podiums, or even Monza when I got up to fourth place, for me that makes me happy.”
“It’s not the ultimate goal of what I want but in the present moment I’m getting everything out of what I can so it’s making me happy enough,” added Ricciardo who lies fourth in the world championship standings with 162 points, Verstappen is sixth on 68 points.