Never one to leave difficult things unsaid, Dr. Helmut Mark of Red Bull Racing has spoken about the teammate comparison or rivalry between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. With Ricciardo moving to Renault this year, many have wondered if it is the right move and I said at the time, car performance or not, it may be the right move for Dan’s career and political situation within the Red Bull team.
“There is specific data,” Marko told Autosport. “In qualifying the gap to Ricciardo is greater. In the race he’s also a bit faster.
“The strange thing is Max sometimes slides more, but still manages to keep the tyres alive.
“That has developed. When he came to us, it wasn’t like that yet.
“In the second year  Ricciardo dropped back a bit, but he recognised that and then he worked intensively with his physio and other things on himself, so he came close to Verstappen again.
“But in the second half of the 2018 season Verstappen has clearly moved away.”
You see, folks have had a grand time discussing how Sebastian Vettel got handed his backside in 2014 by his new teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. They said that played a large role in Vettel’s desire to move to Ferrari because he knew his teammate was faster and he couldn’t handle Dan’s pace.
I said in 2014 that those speculations were bunk. Vettel was already on his way out the door and the new hybrid engines were a complete mess. He was done at Red Bull and he knew it. He was already inking a new contract in Maranello and simply winding down at Red Bull. Beating Dan was the least of his concerns.
Vettel knew the Red Bull’s hybrid engine pace and future prospects were going to be difficult ones and getting to Ferrari, just like his mentor Michael Schumacher, was his main goal. Beating Ricciardo wasn’t.
Earlier this year, I suggested that Dan has now had the favor returned in the form of Max. Dan finds himself being beaten by a young teammate and yet no one is offering the same critical commentary of the Australian as they did for Vettel. Why is that?
If you argue that Daniel wasn’t concerned about beating Max because he was more focused on finding a new career direction but you fail to recognize that this was clearly the case for Vettel, then are you being disingenuous?
I tend to think Dan was focused on his next move because he could see that Max is a terrific talent and the team were very happy with him. Dan saw that even in 2017. Max is a marketing juggernaut for the team and he puts a sea of orange in the stands everywhere he goes.
Daniel also had eight DNF’s to Max’s three last year. I don’t care who you are, that weighs on your mind and at some point, you’re pretty much done with that season. Hard to keep your chin up with a 40% failure rate.
If there’s a pace advantage between Max and Dan, I don’t think it’s much and while Marko is probably correct in his data revelation, I think you have to consider the mindset that Daniel was in mid-year in 2018. He was looking for a team to call his own and let’s hope he’s found it in Renault.
There is no doubt that Max is terrific! He puts butts in seats and he is a rare talent that is incredibly fun to watch. Dan, on the other hand, doesn’t have the reputation of winning or binning it and making unforced errors like Max has. Dan is the king of the late-brakers and wonderfully fun to watch race.
I’m not willing to suggest that Dan got his backside handed to him at Red Bull by his young teammate and that left him departing the team with his tail between his legs. I also don’t buy that narrative about Vettel when Dan came to Red Bull in 2014.
I think Dan is every bit as quick as Max despite the data and I also happen to think that Vettel is as quick as both of them. There is context to Vettel’s performance in 2014 just as there is for Dan in 2017 and I should think Marko knows that. All three drivers are immensely quick and one of them has four world championships. No telling how many the other two drivers might get if they have the car.
Hat Tip: Autosport