While Daniel Ricciardo concedes that a tense intra-team title fight would be a good problem to have, he hopes that whatever happens in 2018, he remains friends with Max Verstappen.
With Renault’s power unit on the up, Red Bull put in an improved performance in 2017.
The season ended with three race wins for the team; one for Ricciardo and two for Verstappen.
The team is hoping to take another step forward in the upcoming season with both Ricciardo and Verstappen eyeing a title challgne.
Asked if he could remain friends with his team-mate in the face of an intra-team battle, Ricciardo said: “I hope so, keep him on my birthday list. So we’ll see.
“We said at the start of 2017 it would be a good problem to have. If we’re both fighting at the front and having some battles. If it’s ultimately deciding a World title we would happily run with that challenge. So, yeah, we’ll see.
“We again had high hopes for that [last year]. I believe in 2018 we will close the gap.
“Is it enough to fight for a title? I think we can certainly get close but we’ll see. I don’t want to predict too early. I’m sure we’ve learned a lot and I believe we’re going to put in the right work in the winter to start strong.
“And then that’ll be exciting. Max improved in 2017 from 2016. I think he… I won’t say came a long way because he was always there but he certainly improved and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, so looking forward to that.”