Ricciardo responds to bitter Max slap
DANIEL Ricciardo has rejected claims he rubbed his qualifying success at the Mexico Grand Prix in Max Verstappen's face, saying he had no intention of disrespecting his Red Bull teammate.
Ricciardo claimed pole position in Mexico while Verstappen - yet to start at the front of the grid in his F1 career - slipped behind and qualified second fastest.
A visibly disappointed Verstappen cut a completely different figure to his older comrade, who celebrated with gusto after a rare moment of joy in a season that's been plagued by bad luck.
The Dutchman had the last laugh, winning the main race on Sunday while Ricciardo suffered another heartbreaking technical failure that prevented him from finishing. But according to Dutch media, Verstappen's father Jos - a former F1 star himself - said his son was incensed by what he thought was Ricciardo's over-the-top celebration after getting the better of his teammate in qualifying.
"I was not really happy myself, but I spoke to him (Max) before bedtime," Verstappen told Ziggo Sport.
"I tried to calm him down a bit, he was particularly angry because the car was out of order. That pole position is nice, but winning is of course much more important.
"He was especially annoyed by missing the pole and by the car, but also by Ricciardo.
"He celebrated his pole position with an exuberance as if he had become world champion. He (Max) was very angry.
"He was greatly exasperated and wanted only one thing, that was winning the race."
But Ricciardo, speaking ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix on Monday morning (AEDT), said he didn't mean to offend anyone and, while he knew Verstappen was upset, didn't believe any of that anger was directed his way.
"I am not aware of that (Jos's comments about Max). I was aware Max was p***ed after quali, the press conference and that you could tell he was not too pleased," Ricciardo said.
"I don't think it was really directed at me. I think anyone missing their first pole by such a small margin is going to be p***ed. Even if I missed that pole, if I was in his shoes, even if it was not for my first pole, I would still be upset. That is the competitor in us.
"I didn't see it as anything personal, like I was rubbing it in. I was super happy because it has been a tough year. I was the underdog in that fight for pole. So to do it, I was pretty stoked.
"From his point of view, he was the favourite all weekend, topping all the sessions, and to get pipped by your teammate by two hundredths (of a second), it is going to p*** you off. That is just the competitor."
Verstappen was the standout driver all weekend in Mexico and while he delivered when it mattered most, he has since admitted missing out on pole position cut him deeply.
The 21-year-old admitted he was furious after qualifying but didn't mention Ricciardo specifically as the cause of his anger, instead laying the blame on engine problems as he revealed he could have "done some damage" had someone said the wrong thing to him after his final hit out before the race.
"I was mainly very angry because of the problems I had with my engine during qualifying," Verstappen said.
"That weekend I was clearly fastest, but for 75 seconds I wasn't. I was literally p***ed off.
"And of course everything little thing that comes with it makes me even more angry.
"I could literally do some damage to someone if somebody would say something wrong to me after qualifying, that angry I was. Every little thing makes it even worse."
Verstappen would have become the youngest pole sitter in F1 history had he edged Ricciardo but he maintained missing out on a place in the record books wasn't haunting him as he got out of the car after qualifying.
"For me I was not really after the youngest pole record. I don't think Lewis (Hamilton) really cares that he's not the youngest pole sitter, with five titles, you know what I mean? It's not a big deal," Verstappen said.
"Just fighting for pole, that was the target.
"For me it felt like I never really had a great opportunity, compared to some other qualifying sessions where felt like it was great, a good feeling, and then you're only P3 or P5 sometimes, but it felt like it was a good session.
"This felt horrible, and then you're still second by such a small margin."