Daniel Ricciardo makes Max Verstappen admission in predicting team-mate duel

Michelle Foster
Red Bull hopeful Daniel Ricciardo talking to Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo could again be Max Verstappen's team-mate.

Walking away from Red Bull in part due to the team’s handling of his Baku crash with Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo believes if he were to be promoted to Red Bull, his rivalry with the reigning champ would be “very different”.

Joining Red Bull in 2014 and clinching seven of his eight Grand Prix wins with the Milton Keynes squad, Ricciardo quit the team as Verstappen began to establish himself as the potential team leader.

It had Christian Horner telling the Telegraph at the time that his “assumption is that he is running from a fight.”

Daniel Ricciardo could reunite with Max Verstappen at Red Bull

Ricciardo denied this, revealing it was Red Bull’s handling of his and Verstappen’s 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix crash coupled with a lack of World titles that had him leaving for Renault.

But five years on he’s back in the Red Bull fold having signed as the team’s reserve driver, that landing him an AlphaTauri race seat when the team sacked Nyck de Vries.

The AlphaTauri drive has long been billed as an audition for Ricciardo to replace Sergio Perez and once again become Verstappen’s team-mate in 2025.

He reckons this time around, if it happens, the dynamics would be very different.

“It would be different,” he told Sky F1. “I think it’d be very different just from probably where we are both at in our career.

“And I always stand by saying like, I don’t regret anything. And at the time, of course, with everything that was going on, that was what I felt was the best situation for me.

“But I would say, look, am I happy to be back? And am I happy to be back in that environment with the people that let’s say got me here? Absolutely.

“Things are different.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: F1 isn’t ‘a matter of life and death’

The Honey Badger says he returned to the grid with one of the sport’s backmarking teams knowing after his eight months off that Formula 1 is not “life and death”.

That’s given him another perspective, although that doesn’t mean he would say no to a World title.

“I’m just more mature. I also know this isn’t a matter of life and death. I put a lot into it, but I’m also a little wiser,” he said.

“There’s a bit of a fear sometimes of retirement and you’ve kind of had this one objective your whole life, you’ve woken up every day for the last 20 years to do something. So when that goes like, ‘okay, what? Who am I?’

“I guess, fortunately, I felt like I was really happy as well on the sidelines.

“Do I believe I can still win races? Absolutely. Will I be a World Champion one day? I would love to say yes but I honestly don’t know and I can’t say that yeah, it’s definitely going to happen.

“And if I ended up winning enough races which lead to a World title, then hell yeah.”

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