The best measure of your abilities as a Grand Prix driver is to compare that of your team mate in the same machinery.
It seems that Red Bull driver Danny Ric feels that Max Verstappen is the first team mate he’s had that’s really been a challenge, including Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo has done well against team mates in the past; Tonio Liuzzi, Narain Karthikeyan or Jean-Éric Vergne were not exactly aspiring world champions at HRT and Toro Rosso. Not exactly 4 time champion Vettel territory.
“I’m not saying I’ve had it easy in the past, but I think he’s the first driver who can challenge me,” the Australian told Autosport last Friday.
“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.”
It is a rather remarkable statement and hugely damning to Vettel, a multiple world champion. Back then the comparison for quali was 10 – 9 in Ricciardo’s favour and an incredible 11 – 3 on the Sundays. Ricciardo was able to win three Grands Prix for Red Bull Racing and was third in the World Championship, whereas Vettel finished a rather pathetic 5th.
In 2017, Ricciardo was defeated by his Dutch team mate Max Verstappen in the qualifying duel 7 – 13, and Max was able to win two races to Ricciardo’s one. The numerous failures of both falsify the comparison in the races, but in the Grands Prix where both Red Bull Racing drivers finished, it was 5 – 2 to Verstappen.
“If we were to split the races, we both had an even amount of good races,” continues Ricciardo, “His good days probably looked better because they weren’t good days for me.”
“I know if I make a little mistake in the past, maybe I could end up ahead still in qualifying,” says Ricciardo.
“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 team-mate.”
“We’ve both raised our game. We can’t afford to put a wheel wrong because we’re going to get beaten.”