Daniel Ricciardo says that his relationship with Max Verstappen went better than how he originally thought it would go. The two were paired at Red Bull after the start of the 2016 season, following Verstappen's promotion to the senior team from Toro Rosso.
After spending three years together, they have picked up nine wins apiece, with the majority (five) going to Verstappen. The two were often seen joking in the paddock together, and held a strong partnership despite some hiccups, most notably at the in Hungary last season and this year in Azerbaijan.
“I’d say the relationship with Max and myself went better than, I’ll be honest, I thought it would go,” Ricciardo said. “Just our personalities and our self-belief. I really believe he thinks he’s the best in the world and I believe I am.
“So, that can obviously clash. But we always managed at least 99% of the time managed to keep that in its own little place. It was cool, it was a good, hard fight with him and I enjoyed it,” the Australian added.
The duo will no longer be teammates next year, as Ricciardo leaves Red Bull for Renault. The 29-year-old says that he believes Verstappen is a much quicker driver now than the one he was at Spain 2016, where he won his first Grand Prix in his maiden race for the energy drink squad.
“There’s a lot of potential, for sure some potential greatness for Max,” said Ricciardo. “I think it’s all about the trajectory. He was quick from day one but I’m convinced he’s a lot quicker than his first win for Red Bull. So, I’m sure he’ll keep improving, but it’s probably going to be more of a scenario/situation if he’s going to be in a car that’s capable.
“That’s probably going to dictate what levels of greatness he’s going to achieve. He’s obviously very talented and I’ve enjoyed the challenge with him, the rivalry. I think we’ve both grown as drivers – it’s been beneficial to both of our careers.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing