Max Verstappen appears to believe Daniel Ricciardo became irrelevant when he left Red Bull to join F1 rivals Renault. Ricciardo ended a nine-year association with Red Bull in the winter of 2018 after agreeing to sign for Renault in a shock move.
The switch came after Verstappen had usurped his more experienced team-mate as Red Bull’s No 1 driver and had his long-term future tied up with a big-money contract.
Signing for Renault – who had finished fourth behind Ricciardo’s old team in the constructors’ standings that year – represented one step back to take two steps forward in the long-term for the Australian.
That’s not how Verstappen saw it, though, with newly-released footage from Netflix’s second Drive to Survive series proving his dismissive attitude.
Asked if he’d miss Ricciardo ahead of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, a grinning Verstappen said: “Well you know Daniel’s still in the paddock, he’s still racing in F1, so I won’t necessarily miss him.
“But I’m just looking ahead to the ones we have to beat and those are Ferrari and Mercedes – not Renault. That’s the target.”
Verstappen’s forecast played out over the course of the 2019 season, which the 22-year-old ended third in the drivers’s standings.
Ricciardo was down in ninth, with Renault slipping behind McLaren to finish the campaign fifth in the constructors’ table.
In the same Drive to Survive episode, Verstappen reiterated his determination to challenge higher up than Renault have recently managed, with winners’ trophies in his sights.
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“Well, for me the aim is to become a world champion and, of course, it’s always better sooner than later,” Verstappen said.
“In 10, 15, 20 years’ time, if I would look back and I see third, I’m not really interested. Personally, I’m only there to win.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has previously offered his own take on Ricciardo’s departure, claiming he was “running from a fight [with Verstappen].”
However, Ricciardo refuted that suggestion and pinned the blame on Red Bull’s failure to turn him into a world champion.
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“I can see how people might want to think that or say that and everyone has an opinion and that hasn’t been pulled from nowhere,” Ricciardo said.
“I obviously say no, not true — I love a good fight. It’s more about me than Max and a lot of reasons but one I’ve stated a few times, and I think some people understand it, but I was at Red Bull for five years.
“They had won four titles and I joined straight after that. So in five years from that first year, I was like, ‘I’m going to win a world title, it’s going to happen’. It didn’t. We never really got close. I’m not bitter about it, it’s just the reality.”
Verstappen and Ricciardo might battle it out in Melbourne in a little under two weeks’ time with the 2020 season due to start with the Australian Grand Prix.
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