‘Crunch point’ of Max’s arrival ‘too bad’ for Ricciardo

Michelle Foster
Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen celebrates with Daniel Ricciardo in parc ferme. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen celebrates with his former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in parc ferme. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Helmut Marko has reiterated that he feels Daniel Ricciardo bailed out of a fight against Max Verstappen, saying that was the Aussie’s reason for leaving Red Bull.

Ricciardo and Verstappen were team-mates for three seasons, the latter joining Red Bull five races into the 2016 season.

Winning on his debut it was clear that in Verstappen Red Bull had a star for the future with Ricciardo opting to leave the team after 2018, citing at the time for the chance for a “fresh and new challenge”.

But as the years have gone by, he has expanded on his reasons revealing that Red Bull’s handling of the team-mates’ 2018 Azerbaijan crash, for which Red Bull publicly blamed Ricciardo, played a role.

Marko says he was running away from the fight that was Verstappen.

“Max coming on the scene was a crunch point in his career,” the Austrian told the latest Red Bull Bulletin. “Rather than taking up the fight, he wanted to keep his distance.

“And you know what happened next. That’s too bad!

“He was always nice to work with. His speed is comparable to that of Max, but he’s just lacking that ultimate consistency.”

Since leaving Red Bull Ricciardo has struggled in his two years with Renault and then two with McLaren, so much so that there are rumours about his F1 future and whether he will still be on the grid next season.

But taking seven of his eight grand prix victories with Red Bull and twice finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship, Marko remembers Ricciardo with fondness.

“A cheerful, natural talent with outstanding car control,” he said of the driver.

“I remember at the very first selection, he came out of the final bend with the back of the car way out, but he managed to get it back under control and even ended up making up some time.

“Daniel gets into the car and is fast straight from the off.

“Even before he came to Red Bull Racing, his career was on an upward trajectory the whole time. In his first year at Red Bull Racing, he beat Vettel by three wins to nil.”

Sebastian Vettel at the time was the reigning World Champion, the German having gone on a run of four successive titles before losing the 2014 crown to Lewis Hamilton.


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