Max Verstappen has welcomed either Sergio Perez or Daniel Ricciardo as his 2024 teammate, saying he gets on well with both.
Amid speculation over the future of the second Red Bull F1 cockpit as Sergio Perez’s struggles continue, Max Verstappen believes it would be unfair of him to indicate a preference either way.
While Red Bull maintain the intention is to keep Perez on as Verstappen’s teammate for 2024, as per his contract, the arrival of Ricciardo at AlphaTauri has lit the fires of speculation that the Australian could easily be swapped into the seat with Perez moved back to AlphaTauri – a situation Red Bull have done on numerous occasions in the past in the case of underperforming drivers.
Max Verstappen: Both Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez have been great teammates
Part of the concern for Red Bull is that, while 2023 has seen Verstappen win the titles without needing the support of his teammate, the closing field with more evenly-matched driver line-ups could leave the World Champion team exposed.
With Perez struggling to even finish races or get near the podium, a closer title fight could result in Red Bull losing a title – adding further credence to the possibility of a Ricciardo gamble due to his past record of success with Red Bull.
Asked about whether he’d prefer to see Ricciardo or Perez in the second RB20 in 2024, Verstappen said he would gladly accept either driver.
“Nice questions today, here!” he laughed when asked to comment on the situation.
“I always had a great relationship with Daniel when we were teammates [between 2016 and ’18], and when, of course, we weren’t.
“But, at the same time also, I have a great relationship with Checo [Perez], so I find it a bit unfair to now sit here and say who I would prefer as a teammate or whatever.
“They have been great teammates, and it’s not up to me at the end of the day to make these kinds of decisions because I’m very focused on my own performance.
“So, if it’s Checo next year, then great. I have had a great working relationship with him but also, personally, I think he’s a great guy. But if it’s Daniel, then we will also get along fine and we’ll have a great time.
“But yeah, F1 can be a tough sport and you’re asking these kinds of questions, but yeah, maybe also nothing happens, right? So we’ll see.”
Daniel Ricciardo: All contract chat has focused on AlphaTauri
Appearing alongside Verstappen in the Drivers’ Press Conference in Brazil, Daniel Ricciardo dismissed the idea that he may have a straightforward path back to the Red Bull cockpit.
“I haven’t,” he said, when asked if there has been any dialogue with Red Bull about replacing Perez.
“Obviously, all the stuff around my contract next year has been related to AlphaTauri. So I would honestly say that’s as far as it goes.”
Having had a stellar weekend in Mexico as he came home in seventh place to help AlphaTauri vault up to eighth place in the Constructors’ table, Ricciardo said he can feel the atmosphere lifting at the Faenza-based squad.
“I think for me personally, having a weekend like Mexico is just definitely good for the soul,” he said.
“Also for the team, I haven’t been here long, but for them to be 10th in the Constructors’ [Championship] and to jump two places in the space of two weekends was huge.
“So I think that kind of creates a very happy atmosphere around everyone. So I’m happy doing that and I’ll try to just keep charging on where I am.”