Former Red Bull and F1 driver Mark Webber believes that his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo must focus on beating Max Verstappen instead of worrying about his contract situation. Aston Martin Red Bull’s Ricciardo managed to beat Verstappen in the 2017 points table. However, the Dutchman had the advantage in qualifying and could have even finished ahead of the Australian. But as hard luck would have it, he was hindered by more reliability retirements compared to Ricciardo. This situation skewed the team-mate head-to-head battle in 2017.
Despite the poor season, Verstappen signed a contract extension until 2020. Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s contract expires at the end of the 2018 season. With his future unclear, Ricciardo will be on everyone’s radar. However, he has insisted that he will make a decision on his future later this year. Webber, on the other hand, thinks that it would be wise to focus on beating Verstappen instead of letting his future distract him.
Webber said, “I think the best thing he can do is beat Verstappen. Which he knows, and he’s going to do his best to do that. He wants to try and have a crack at that for five or six months, then look at the options. I don’t think Mercedes will be rushing to make a decision either; they’re going to keep a good eye on Valtteri [Bottas] and see how he’s performing, probably until Canada. That’s like dog’s balls – everyone can see that coming. There’s an obvious link – they’re both out of contract, he’s a top-flight driver, and there’s a chance for a switch.”
Webber continued, “But if he’s beating Max and Red Bull are flying again, why would he leave? At the end of the day, I don’t think Dan’s too bothered what colour the car is. He just wants to win. That’s what he’s aiming to do, and it’s hard to win consistently. They don’t hand them out. He’s totally capable of it, but he’s just got to find himself in a position where he can get that opportunity.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner made his stance clear on the ‘number one’ driver claims. Ricciardo too feels that he and Max have been given equal opportunities. But Webber had a different view, “Red Bull will support the guy that’s leading the championship and doing the business. If that’s Daniel, I reckon he’s still in great shape there, to be honest. Because he is a Red Bull product. I don’t think Helmut would be disappointed to see Daniel as World Champion, but he loves Max as well. They’re both his favourite guys.”