Daniel Ricciardo says he has no fear over his Red Bull future following Max Verstappen’s promotion and is backing the Dutch teenager to push him to the next level.
Verstappen has swapped seats with Daniil Kvyat, a driver change which likely ties the Dutch teenager to Red Bull for the foreseeable future. The Dutch teenager comes highly rated, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner calling him the “hottest commodity” on the current grid.
Despite the change Ricciardo says he has no concerns he could be up for a similar demotion in future.
“Personally I don’t look over my shoulder,” the Australian driver said. “I will always respect the people coming through and there is always going to be someone coming through. Someone who is quick or a new talent or whatever. You can’t be naïve but for me I am always looking ahead. If I was at the tail end of my career then maybe I would try to hang on to my seat one year, one year more, but I still feel like I am moving forward so that is where my eyes will keep looking.”
Ricciardo cemented his own reputation as a future world champion by beating former teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2014 and is expecting the team’s newest prodigy to give him a stern test.
“I think it is a good chance for me definitely. Having any new teammate is a challenge. Max is young he is fast. He has had a lot of interest since he got into F1 because of his age, but then there was some good results and that. Sure a lot of people expect big things from him, whether it is tomorrow or in years to come, so for me it is another good guy to measure against. But also a new teammate, he is young so he’d like some experience compared to Sebastian Vettel who I had in 14.
“But sure there are still things he can learn. I know he is fast and I am sure he will bring something to the table that I can learn or challenge myself with, so I am looking forward to it. That is what I thought when Christian told me that I would have a new teammate in Barcelona. That is the way I saw it. It is another challenge and it is exciting. I want to be pushed and they feel that Max is the guy now who can push me the hardest.”
Asked if he thinks Red Bull has now settled on its line-up for a few seasons, Ricciardo replied: “Sure they know…I have shown my position in the last few years and I have been doing a good job since I joined the team, so I think they are happy with the path that we are going on together. And now with Max in, I think they really hope that he can push me and we can push each other and we can be a strong duo for years to come. I guess that is definitely the vision.”