Daniel Ricciardo says he has no “excuse” for being regularly humbled by his young teammate Max Verstappen this year.
Although Verstappen has had the lion’s share of the poor reliability at Renault-powered Red Bull this year, it is the Dutchman who has been shining the brightest recently.
“I do not give any excuses,” Australian Ricciardo, who according to team official Dr Helmut is “on the market” for 2019, told Dutch source Formule 1.
“Max is just driving brilliantly this year and knows how to get the most out of the car in every race.”
Nonetheless, Ricciardo is over 40 points ahead of Verstappen in the drivers’ championship.
“That’s incredible,” Ricciardo admitted.
“Max has had a lot of bad luck and I have no explanation for why.
“I have asked the engineers if it could be because of him, but Max is not too rough with the equipment. It’s just pure bad luck.”
Red Bull rising star Max Verstappen’s 2017 powerplay to transform Red Bull into a team that centres around him has left the 28-year-old Australian in a desperate position heading into the final year of his contract with the outfit that discovered him.
Following the announcement of Verstappen’s contract extension through to the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has repeatedly said the team is prepared to wait for Ricciardo to make his intentions known.
Having qualified 1.3 seconds off pole position at the season-opening race in March, Red Bull’s strong in-season development rate has proved one of the season’s most impressive feats.
Verstappen in particular has relished that shift in form, enjoying a 2017 turnaround of his own after the first half of his season was blighted by a lack of reliability.
The season continues with the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.