Max Verstappen has empathised with Daniel Ricciardo after the news that he will be leaving McLaren at the end of the season.
The Australian partnered the reigning world champion for almost three full seasons at Red Bull from 2016 to 2018 and, between them, they won 10 races.
Generally, the now 24-year-old had a slight edge over Ricciardo, and he left for Renault at the end of 2018.
After just two seasons and as many podiums with the French side, the 33-year-old was on the move again as he joined Lando Norris at McLaren, but things have not worked out as he would have hoped.
Ricciardo has scored points on just 17 occasions in Papaya, while Norris has managed 31 as well as six podiums.
While the Aussie may only have managed one podium with the team, he won the Italian Grand Prix while doing so, picking up the team’s first victory since 2012 in the process.
That highlight will live long on the memory, but he has been faced with a car that has not clicked with his driving style, and both he and the team have been trying hard to make it work.
However, they have been unable to do so, and it was announced on Wednesday that Ricciardo would be let go at the end of this season, terminating his contract a year early.
Verstappen, who leads the championship having won eight races this season, knows first-hand the talent his former team-mate possesses, so he reckons that the McLaren car was just not right for Ricciardo.
“I think the current car doesn’t suit him,” he told Motorsport.com.
“That hasn’t really improved in the past few months and then at a certain point you start talking and you say ‘maybe it’s better if we both take a different path.’
“That’s just the way it goes sometimes, that’s normal, if you don’t feel comfortable in the car and can’t push to the limit, then of course you’ll never get to the same level as someone who can.”
Ricciardo reportedly turned down an offer from Zak Brown to race for McLaren’s IndyCar team, because he wants to stay in F1.
“As a driver, I also just hope that he finds a seat, although that is of course up to him,” added Verstappen.
The Dutchman also offered his thoughts on the Fernando Alonso situation, and he believes that his move to Aston Martin may work out in the long run.
“At least it’s been interesting. For Fernando, I would say: why not? Aston Martin still has the ambition to come forward and they are currently bringing in a lot of people,” he explained.
Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel next year after his relationship with Alpine broke down.
He grew tired of being used as a stop gap until the team could sign Oscar Piastri, so he struck a deal with billionaire Lawrence Stroll instead.