Ricciardo: Tensions will rise when Max and I fight for wins
Once upon a time in Red Bull land Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were greatest of mates, and teammates, prompting team chief Christian Horner to say at the time that he had the best driver pairing on the grid – then in 2010, during the Turkish Grand Prix, a collision between the pair put a permanent end to the joviality.
Fast forward half a dozen years and we have new best mates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen enjoying a cosy relationship that is the envy of the paddock these days, and has their boss gushing with pride and oozing confidence.
But Ricciardo told the Red Bull website that things can change, “I’m not naive. If we’re fighting for wins I’m sure the pressure and tension will rise – but hopefully we’ll be able to look each other in the eye and say ‘good job’ afterwards.”
He recalled Verstappen’s sensational promotion to the team for the Spanish Grand Prix, “It was a big thing. Especially that first weekend in Spain which was pretty crazy, and not just because he won. I suspect the team didn’t know how good Max was and where he was going to fit.”
“His win really gave us good energy and pushed us on to get stronger. In Spain everybody was watching, wondering if we’d made a mistake swapping Dany and Max around. I think his win was a relief more than anything, and it definitely pushed us on. Certainly it pushed me on.”
“I think I’d been at the right level from the start of the season – which may have caused some of the commotion in the first place because I had a better start than Dany. With Max, I felt we were pushing each other from the off.”
“He was closer to me in qualifying and so naturally that provides a spur because you’re looking at each other’s data and finding an extra bit here and there. It makes you better,” he added.
Meanwhile the big smiling Australian is looking forward to next season and the rule changes which he sees as an opportunity to bridge the gap to Mercedes, “I honestly think it’s a good thing for us. It seems to put more emphasis on aerodynamics and I have a lot of faith in our aerodynamics department.”
“It’s our strong suit. From that point of view I don’t think it can hurt us. Also, I think the cars are going to look pretty bad-ass. Mean, wider tyres, more muscular. Grrrrrr….” added Ricciardo.