Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reckons that McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo may benefit from leaving the team at the end of the season.
Ricciardo raced alongside Verstappen at Red Bull in 2016 when the Dutchman was promoted after four rounds to replace Daniil Kvyat.
Verstappen won on his debut in Spain that year, before the Australian led home a Red Bull one-two in Malaysia towards the end of the season.
During 2016, the now 33-year-old signed a new contract that would keep him at the Milton Keynes-based team until the end of 2018, by which time Verstappen had established himself as the number one driver.
Ricciardo decided it was time to move on after seven wins with the Austrian outfit, and he joined Renault in 2019, only to leave at the end of 2020 after scoring two podiums.
Ultimately though, his move to McLaren has not worked out, and the Australian, who was once one of the most sought-after talents in the sport, is now searching for a team in 2023.
The McLaren car has simply never suited Ricciardo’s style, although he showed in Monza last year that, when his ducks are in a row, he can and will win races.
The eight-time race winner shared a brilliant relationship with Verstappen during their time as team-mates, and the reigning world champion wants to see Ricciardo remain on the grid next term.
“Daniel is a great driver, we had a really good time when we were together,” Verstappen said.
“He was a really nice guy to work with as well.
“Yes, he has had his difficulties at McLaren, the car just didn’t really suit his driving style, but yeah, I hope he can continue because I think he still has a lot left in him to perform.
“I really hope that he will get a seat somewhere in F1, so he can show his talent again.”
Ricciardo was initially contracted until the end of next season, but he and McLaren came to an agreement to end his stay a year early.
Now that his friend is out of what was a painful situation though, Verstappen hopes this will lead to better things for Ricciardo.
“He had a contract for one more year but at one point, you know, sometimes it’s better to say: hey, this is not working out, we need to find something new,” he added.
“I think it’s for both sides, for the team and for himself, so this might actually be good for him.”
Ricciardo has been linked with moves back to Alpine – Renault’s new guise – as well as the potentially vacant seats at Haas and Williams.