Daniel Ricciardo picks sides in Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen title fight

McLaren star Daniel Ricciardo has revealed who he is supporting out of Red Bull and Mercedes in their fascinating title battle. The Milton Keynes outfit are just one point behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship while former teammate Max Verstappen leads the drivers’ standings by 19 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Australian surprised many when he announced he was leaving Red Bull to join Renault for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

His time with the French manufacturer did not last long, with the Australian revealing before the 2020 season that he would switch to McLaren for 2021 and beyond.

Ricciardo has consistently denied having any regrets about leaving Red Bull for Renault at the end of 2018, despite his spell with the French manufacturer only lasting for two years.

And Ricciardo is still hoping his former team can win the 2021 World Championship as Red Bull chase their first title since completing the double with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel in 2013.

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The 32-year-old remains close with those at Red Bull, and revealed bosses Dietrich Mateschitz and Helmut Marko contacted him to give their congratulations after he secured his first win since 2018 at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

“I know many more people in Red Bull than I do at Mercedes, so of course, I’m rooting for them this year!”: Ricciardo told RacingNews365.com.

“In 2018, I made the choice [to leave] and it was what it was, but after Monza, I had a message from Helmut, I had a message from Dietrich, so there’s still that respect, I guess, between us.

“No matter where I finish this career of mine, I’ll always owe the biggest part of it to Red Bull, and that’s fact, so it would give me a lot of pleasure to see them happy again.”

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Ricciardo inadvertently helped his former team when, on the opening lap of the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, the McLaren driver clipped the back of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, losing his own front wing and sending the Finn into a spin. 

The Australian believes he would not have stayed at Red Bull for another two years, let alone for 2021, even if he had not moved to Renault.

Ricciardo believes the move hardly altered his future at Christian Horner’s team due to a number of reasons, including the comfortable atmosphere and the departure of his Race Engineer, Simon Rennie.

“This isn’t a knock to Red Bull, it’s more of a nod to me, [but] I don’t know if I would have grown much at Red Bull,” Ricciardo added.

“I touched on it at the time. Everything is very familiar. Already in 2018 I had some things [where I thought], ‘Am I getting complacent? Am I this, am I that?’ 

“So to stay in that same environment, I’m not sure I would have improved as a driver.”

Formula 1 returns to the Interlagos in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 14, with Red Bull star  Verstappen holding a 19-point lead over Mercedes rival Hamilton.

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