Australian driver and Red Bull ace Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that he didn’t expect too much of a challenge, when Max Verstappen was drafted in to replace Russian driver Daniil Kvyat just before the Spanish Grand Prix.
Max went on to win the Spanish Grand Prix and became as a result, the youngest ever winner in Formula one history. Debut races don’t get much better than that, and it was at this point that the honey badger realised that he has a major fight on his hands.
Since the start of the European season, the flying dutch teen has outperformed his more senior teammate in the Red Bull stable. Max has been on the podium three more times, including back to back podiums at the Red Bull ring and at Silverstone. Last time out in Germany, again Max managed a podium however this time Dani Ric managed to outperform the young protégé.
Ricciardo has managed two second place finishes and a third place finish during this time, but many consider Max to have done the better job for Red Bull.
“I certainly underestimated Max, I knew I had a challenge, I knew he would be fast because I’ve known Carlos Sainz longer than I’ve known Verstappen and I know he is bloody is fast,” he told Motorsport-Total.com. “Max and he were pretty evenly matched, the young drivers of today learn so quickly. Verstappen is a potential world champion of the future.
“I also knew that Red Bull did not put him in the car to create hype in the media. They had analysed in his performance at Toro Rosso and drew the conclusion that Max was ready. But you have to hold your own in this sport, and Verstappen does.”
Daniel Ricciardo is currently in third position in the drivers standings, whilst Max sits in sixth position. Red Bulls form of late has been reminiscent of the 2014 season where they were clearly the ‘next best’ behind the Mercedes team. When the action returns at Spa Red Bull will be hoping that their two drivers continue to push each other, and also push the team out of the clutches of Ferrari.
Do Red Bull have the best driver pairing on the grid?