Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has stated that Max Verstappen is the best teammate he’s ever had. In other word, he rates the Dutchman higher than four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. The German raced alongside the Australian in 2014. Ricciardo said, “I’m not saying I’ve had it easy in the past. But I think he’s the first driver who can challenge me.”
Ricciardo has partnered many drivers, ranging from Narain Karthikeyan to Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne. Comparing his and Verstappen’s driving styles, he said “In the past, if I’ve done a high-speed corner and I’ve taken it flat-out for example, I’ve never had someone who can get there the same way. Max would at least go out there and try it. He’s been able to match stuff easier than some other guys have.”
In 2017, Ricciardo finished ahead of Verstappen by 32 points, but Verstappen leads the race-win tally. Ricciardo also said that Max’s “qualifying improved” in 2017 as the 20-year old beat him 13 times out of 20 qualifying sessions. The 28-year old said, “I know if I made a little mistake in the past, maybe I could end up ahead still in qualifying. Now, if I make a mistake, he’s in front. It’s the same if he doesn’t quite put a perfect lap together – I’m in front. This is why I would say he’s the better teammate. We’ve both raised our game. We can’t afford to put a wheel wrong.”
2017 was a forgettable season as both suffered from engine unreliability, leaving both of them frustrated. The Australian said, “If we were to split the races, we both had an even amount of good races. His good days probably looked better because they weren’t good days for me”. Despite that, Ricciardo still thinks Verstappen is his best teammate as they pushed each other on track while still respecting each other off track.
Ricciardo is confident that the two will be evenly matched, if Red Bull and Renault give them a strong package in 2018. He even predicts a close fight for top dog honours this season – and hopefully also for the world championship.