The honey badger Daniel Ricciardo, feels that the arrival of Max Verstappen at Red Bull this year has taken his own form to a new level.
Dani has yet to bring the car home in first place for Red Bull, unlike his Dutch teammate who romped home with his first win at Barcelona. The popular Aussie though has been a regular feature on the podium this year, sharing the Australian tradition of a ‘shoey’ along the way.
In recent races Dani has also proved to be the thorn in Mercedes’ side, being the most likely candidate to challenge them for a win. Victory at Monaco was taken away cruelly at the teams final pit stop, but Dani feels that the arrival of Max in Spain has pushed him onto another level.
“I think that was a bit of a step up in my personal career, in my driving,” he said, when asked by Motorsport.com about the arrival of Max.
“I always felt that I was at the limit and I think up until that point where Max arrived, that was what probably sparked the change – that I was performing quite well compared to Dany [Kvyat] from testing through to Russia. And then, Max came on board.
“I thought I was already driving at my limit but I guess there is something a little bit more, and I feel we have both given each other that.
“I feel Max has lifted his game even more and I have so, so it is cool to know we have a little bit more in the tank. I think we both – without knowing we had it – have found a bit more.”
Ricciardo was quick to acknowledge that losing out to the Dutch flyer would be detrimental to his career, and was also curious to see how he would compare.
“When you have a new team-mate it is always exciting,” he said. “I am sure it is another challenge but another person to try to learn from and improve my own game. That part is exciting and I can probably better myself.
“But sure I know if he comes into the team and kicked my arse 10 races in a row then my career would quickly go down. Sure there is always some curiosity, I wouldn’t say nerves but pressure and curiosity – but for me as well it is exciting.
“I knew how hyped Max was. I had never seen his data and didn’t know what he was bringing to the table but I knew that he was not afraid to give it a go. And I saw from first practice at Barcelona that he was on the limit of the car. So I thought this was going to be exciting….”
Dani also reminisced about his time with Seb in 2014.
“When I had Seb. I knew if I could get the best of Seb, the four-time champion, it would do well for my career,” he said.
“And I can go well against Max, who is the new kid on the block, it is something which if I can get on top of them, it will only help me out. I am not afraid. Just excited.”
After the Singapore podium last time out, Dani stated that the ‘shoey’ won’t appear again until a victory. Let’s hope that this is sooner rather than later.