Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is vying for the championship for the first time this season, having won nine races and trailing Lewis Hamilton by eight points heading into the final two races of the season. The battle between the two title contenders has been extremely heated, with the two colliding several times, including accidents at the British and Italian Grand Prix. Verstappen’s daring driving was on display again at the Brazilian Grand Prix earlier this month, when he and Hamilton went off track as they battled for the race lead.
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, who worked with Verstappen at Red Bull from 2016 to 2018 before leaving the team, said the Dutchman’s maturity has helped him avoid more incidents with rivals according to a report in Motorsport.com. He believes the aggression remains.
“I think in general, being his teammate, I don’t know if I have any more knowledge than everyone watching from the outside, because I think teammate or not, we know Max, you know, the calibre of driving, how he races,” said Ricciardo.
“I think he always came in with an aggressive approach, but I think he’s certainly matured over time and certainly finds himself in less incidents or accidents as I feel he was in the first year or so in F1,” the Australian added.
Ricciardo and Verstappen shared a healthy rivalry when the Aussie was a Red Bull driver. He would move on to Renault for the 2019 season but he still reportedly shares a close personal relationship with Verstappen.
“So I think he’s definitely polished up that aggression but still has it,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t know, whether the move was right or wrong, you know, fighting for a win, and I guess the championship at this stage, you’re obviously going to try and fight for as long as you can and do everything you can to hold onto that lead and obviously that one took them both off, so maybe that was over the limit.”
“But yeah, I don’t think anything has changed over time. As I said, since the first year I think he matured, but I think the last few years the approach hasn’t changed and I think that’s, in a way, what I’ve always respected, is you know you’re going to get raced hard with Max,” the Australian added.
Speaking about the Brazilian GP incident with Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo said: “Was that too hard? I mean yeah, who knows, I’m going to stay out of it.”
“They both went off track, so you could say it was too hard because no one made the corner, so you could say that, but I think the approach is unchanged,” he concluded.