Daniel Ricciardo thinks that Max Verstappen probably has more respect for his driving ability after watching Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon struggle at Red Bull.
Ricciardo and Verstappen were teammates at the Milton Keynes-based outfit between 2016 and 2018, prior to Ricciardo opting to join Renault.
Since his departure, Red Bull have struggled to replace the seven-time race winner, with neither Gasly nor Albon able to match the level at which he was competing in the past.
During their time as teammates Ricciardo and Verstappen had a couple of run-ins, most notably at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but the 31-year-old said it is now easier from them “to be friends” because they drive for different teams.
“I think it’s easier now for me and Max to be friends for two reasons,” he told square mile. “I think one is that obviously we are not in direct competition – we are not trying to basically end each other’s careers.
“The second point is that I think – I mean, of course, I won races with him as a team-mate and got pole position, so I think he always knew I was quick and respected me – but now, since I’ve left, other drivers have come through and him having different team-mates, I think it’s probably increased his respect for me even more.
“I mean, we never hated each other, we just wanted to end each other’s careers. It’s as simple as that.”
Looking back on his time at Red Bull, Ricciardo explained that it helped him mature as a driver.
“I loved growing up in the Red Bull system,” he added.
“I loved having Helmut Marko breathing down my neck all the time, and making sure that I was getting the most out of the car and myself. I definitely matured a lot through that programme.”