Why Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Debut Was a “Real Nightmare” for Daniel Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo never had it the easy way during his time at Red Bull. In his debut season with the Milton Keynes-based outfit, he faced the enormous task of having to compete with a 4-times world champion in Sebastian Vettel. Following Vettel’s departure, things didn’t get any easier.

He was outscored by Daniil Kvyat the following season. But the Russian was soon replaced by the exceptionally talented Max Verstappen who announced his arrival to Red Bull with a win in his very first race.

Speaking about the effect of Verstappen winning his very first race on himself, Ricciardo said, “That is a real nightmare for a teammate.”

This was so because Ricciardo had immense pressure on himself to deliver, having underachieved the previous season. Moreover, being the more experienced driver in the team, one’s ego can take a hit when outshone by a younger driver.

But after the initial shock of losing the race to Verstappen, Ricciardo stabilized himself and recovered. He said, “I kept my cool and immediately wanted to find a way to stay ahead of him.

“Because one thing was clear to me: Max is extremely talented and special. He knew exactly what he wanted.

“(He is) someone who demands the hundred percent from you. I had to find a balance for myself. Because he was not only really fast but had a lot of supporters behind him.”

Daniel Ricciardo relished the challenge of taking on Verstappen and learned a lot from him

Daniel Ricciardo looks on intensely prior to the start of the Russian Grand Prix
Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia -Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo before the race. Pool via REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Ricciardo didn’t shrink in the heat of the battle and took the challenge head-on.

The man from down under said, “I loved this kind of challenge. In the end, we both got something out of it and the team also benefitted from our mutual drive.

“Max is so incredibly fast. So I had to find my limit faster too. But he also taught me to think more technically. To think more about the track conditions for example.”

“I learned to concentrate more on myself and do my thing. To beat him with my own weapons.”

In the end, Ricciardo did beat Verstappen during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. However, the Dutchman did get the better of him in what was their last season as teammates in 2018.

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