Red Bull F1 boss reassured Ricciardo over Verstappen favouritism

Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull team Principal Christian Horner reassured him he will have a fair fight with Max Verstappen in the 2018 Formula 1 season after favouritism concerns. Shortly before Verstappen penned a new deal to remain at Red Bull until the end of 2020, Horner had urged him to stay long term and build the team around him. Verstappen also received an upgraded Renault engine earlier than Ricciardo in the final part of the season.

Ricciardo, whose current contract expires this year, said Horner took him aside to explain his remarks.  “That is not what you want to hear,” Ricciardo told Autosport about what Horner had said. “I didn’t see it in the press but afterwards I found out about Christian’s comment.  “It was because he actually came up to me and cleared it up.  “He said ‘look, if you’ve seen the comments, it’s not out of context but I didn’t want it to come across that way’.  “He said ‘please I don’t want you to think anything like that. We’re fighting for both of you’.  “Max got the updated engine in the last few races, which was the only thing that has ever been different.  “But I don’t have any concern with it. If I did, I would have spoken up about it already.”

Asked if he felt he would have everything around him to win the 2018 title if Red Bull built a quick enough car, Ricciardo replied: “I do. That’s 100% honest.”  Ricciardo said he accepted the explanation provided by Horner and is focused on doing the best job he can regardless of Verstappen. “Even if the engine is a tenth quicker, the person in me says I’ve just got to drive two tenths better,” he said. “If I’m good enough, I’ll beat him anyway! I’m confident. “I acknowledge that I have to be perfect more often than not if I want to stay in front.  “My Sundays [in 2017] were as good as they’ve ever been for the most part. The racer in me is very confident and determined.”

Ricciardo has said he will take time to make a decision on his future, with potential seats on offer at Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019. Horner accepted that position, and made clear Red Bull wants to keep Ricciardo for the long term as well as Verstappen.

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