Daniel Ricciardo has said he believes Max Verstappen is a better racer than his current team-mate Lando Norris, though he stressed that he probably thinks this because he has more experience with the Dutch ace.
Ricciardo has partnered Norris at McLaren this year after deciding to ditch Renault last campaign.
He joined the French team from Red Bull, which he left as he felt the team was prioritising Verstappen as they were looking to make him the youngest World Champion in the history of Formula 1.
Team principal Christian Horner, however, accused Ricciardo of running away from a fight against Verstappen in equal machinery.
Speaking to EFTM.com this week, Ricciardo gave his opinion on whether Verstappen or Norris is the better racer.
“I mean, I have to say Max,” Ricciardo replied.
“But it’s probably just based off I’ve had more experience with him.”
Continuing, the Aussie praised Norris’ exceptional drive in last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which he finished in P3 to score his second-ever F1 podium:
“But I mean, judging by like the last weekend at Imola, Lando certainly raced really well.”
The young Briton has outperformed his more experienced team-mate in the opening two grand prix of the season, but most drivers who have joined new teams this year have been struggling relative to their new team-mates.
Following the race at Imola, which Ricciardo finished in sixth, the Aussie said he took encouragement from Norris’ performance rather than feeling “defeated” by it.
“In the end, sixth from a points point of view is alright – but certainly my race pace wasn’t anything to do cartwheels over,” Ricciardo said.
“[My race pace] was certainly not particularly fast. I’ve just got to keep working on it. It’s one of those ones where obviously I’m hard on myself and obviously I’m not skipping around… But I think by race six or race seven, I’ll look back at race two and think, ‘What was I worried about?’” he added.
“I think it’s just up to me to… it sounds kind of simple, but just to keep turning laps, and obviously the pace is there.
“Lando had really strong pace all weekend and obviously put it on the podium today, so I take encouragement from that. I’m certainly not defeated by that, and I’m certainly going to accept where I’m at at the moment and just work on it.
“I’m not going to let pride or ego get in the way. It is race two of 23, the road is long and I’ll just keep my chin up and work on it.
“Hopefully I’ll be more competitive in races to come. It’s race two so I don’t want to be like, ‘I was expecting to be on the podium already.’ Maybe by the next race I’m on it.
“But let’s say at least today my pace wasn’t that spectacular, so I’ll just look at it, work on it. Obviously the reference to Lando is a strong one so I’ll just chip away and do better,” he added.