Former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed his thoughts on ex-teammate Max Verstappen following the former’s move to Renault and offered a telling insight into the pair’s relationship during their time working together.
An outsider could be forgiven for assuming the two experienced a fraught partnership thanks to several intense on-track exchanges, such as their dramatic crash earlier this year at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
But Ricciardo insists the opposite is true.
"I’d say the relationship with Max and myself went better than, I’ll be honest, I thought it would go," Ricciardo told the Red Bull season review podcast, according to Motorsport.
"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.”
Verstappen won five races during the time he raced alongside Ricciardo to the latter’s four, but greater consistency by the Australian allowed him to best the flying Dutchman in the championship rankings in two of the three seasons they raced together.
And despite the aforementioned clashes on the track, the pair expect to remain friends now they will occupy different paddocks.
Indeed, Ricciardo points out that their relationship may become ‘even better’ due to no longer being ‘direct competitors’.
The sentiment was echoed by Verstappen.
"Daniel is in general a very positive person and always smiling," he said.
"It’s a good atmosphere to be around him
"It’s better than having a grumpy teammate who doesn’t always speak to you."
Not only will the friendly rivals remain pals away from the sport, Verstappen insists that both will have learned important lessons in how to maintain a healthy team spirit.
"Having a good atmosphere in the team is important so I’ll take that on board and try to create that with Pierre (Gasly, Verstappen’s new team-mate),” the Dutchman added.
Finally, Ricciardo predicted great things for the 21-year-old Verstappen.
"There's a lot of potential, for sure some potential greatness for Max.
"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."