McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on his relationship with former Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, insisting they “never hated each other.”
Ricciardo departed Red Bull at the end of 2018, as he felt the team was favouring Verstappen as they looked to make him the youngest ever F1 World Champion.
He joined Renault, but after two lacklustre seasons with the Enstone-based team he decided to move to McLaren in the hopes of landing a more competitive car.
In an interview with Square Mile this week, Ricciardo said the “outside world really underestimated what Max and I did to each other”, and suggested this only became apparent after Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon failed to fill his boots in the second Red Bull car.
“Red Bull really knew what they could do with Max and me,” Ricciardo said.
“They knew that we were both top drivers. Maybe they had already expected that my successor would find it a bit difficult, but the outside world really underestimated what Max and I did to each other – how we pushed each other to a higher level.
“And yes, obviously, Pierre or Alex, couldn’t get on top of that. Or at least not soon enough.”
Continuing, he said “it’s easier now to be friends with Max” because they “are not directly involved in a fight” and because the Dutch driver respects Ricciardo as he bagged pole positions and won grand prix when he was his team-mate at Red Bull.
“Since I left and other teammates have come through, his respect for me will only have increased.
“We never hated each other, certainly not, but we wanted to end each other’s careers! It’s that simple,” he added.