Verstappen Baku clash fallout a factor in Ricciardo’s Red Bull exit
February 17 2019 , 1:48 pm
Daniel Ricciardo has admitted the Red Bull Formula 1 team’s handling of his Azerbaijan Grand Prix collision with Max Verstappen played a part in his decision to leave for Renault.
Ricciardo and his then-team-mate’s intense on-track battle in Baku last year culminated in a spectacular crash.
The incident left Red Bull chiefs furious, and both drivers were told to apologise to staff at the factory.
Reflecting now on the circumstances that led to him choosing Renault over Red Bull for 2019, Ricciardo said he felt it was unfair of his former team to blame him and Verstappen equally for what happened.
Speaking about the factors that prompted his team switch, Ricciardo said: “I couldn’t tell you how many little pieces made up the puzzle, the kaleidoscope, but I guess that was one of the little pieces.
“We both got a talking to, putting it politely, but in my eyes, I guess the incident itself was…I felt like I was not really in the wrong even though I was the one that hit him. I think most people saw the double move [Verstappen made in defence].
“Even before that, there was a lot of contact and I think a lot of people thought it went on too long.
“I guess the way it was handled at the time didn’t sit too well with me, so that was like a little thing that bothered me.
“But it wasn’t the deal breaker, if you know what I mean.”
Asked if he felt that Verstappen should have been admonished more for the incident, Ricciardo replied: “Yeah. Handling the media I get, and it [Red Bull] is a big brand to look after. So again it doesn’t help if we both go off at each other and that.
“I kind of felt like there was a bit of equal blame. And maybe that is me being a stubborn race car driver, but I didn’t feel it was an equal incident I guess. That is the easiest way to put it.”
Despite his unease over Red Bull’s reaction to Baku, Ricciardo insisted he never had a personal problem with Verstappen and never felt either played political games with the other.
“I don’t necessarily think Max was political. Just Max is Max,” he said.
“Even now it is done and I don’t need to be careful with what I say, it was actually pretty good.
“Look, some of the flamboyancy with Max, that is just with age as well, and I guess from that point of view I would expect less with [2019 team-mate] Nico [Hulkenberg] just because it is a bit of an age gap and maturity.
“Nico has been around the block plenty of times. But going back to Max…I don’t think he was political. It was fun.”