Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that he didn’t think much of Max Verstappen when he was promoted up to Red Bull to replace Daniil Kvyat at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
It was after Verstappen won the Spanish GP on his Red Bull debut and became the youngest Formula 1 winner in history that Ricciardo began to sit up and notice the competition he would be up against.
In the time that has passed since the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen has outperformed the Australian as he has secured three more podium finishes, including coming second in back-to-back races at the Austrian and British GPs respectively. His other podium finish came at the German Grand Prix, where he finished third.
Ricciardo has also racked up two second place and a third place finish in that time, but overall, Verstappen has been the better driver for Red Bull.
“I certainly underestimated Max, I knew I had a challenge, I knew he would be fast because I’ve known Carlos Sainz longer than I’ve known Verstappen and I know he is bloody is fast,” he told Motorsport-Total.com. “Max and he were pretty evenly matched, the young drivers of today learn so quickly. Verstappen is a potential world champion of the future.
“I also knew that Red Bull put him out of the car to create a hype in the media. They had analysed in his performance at Toro Rosso and drew the conclusion that Max was ready. But you have to hold your own in this sport, and Verstappen does.”
Ricciardo currently sits in third place on the Formula 1 standings, while Verstappen is in sixth.