Verstappen mistakes could strengthen Ricciardo’s hand

Image by Andy Hone/LAT

Verstappen mistakes could strengthen Ricciardo’s hand

Formula 1

Verstappen mistakes could strengthen Ricciardo’s hand

Christian Horner admits the errors being made by Max Verstappen could end up costing Red Bull more money to keep Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen signed a contract extension last year that is understood to have increased the amount he earns from Red Bull as well as tying him down until the end of the 2021 season. However, the Dutchman has made a number of mistakes this season and a crash in FP3 in Monaco saw him miss qualifying and score only two points in the race. Ricciardo, by contrast, is out of contract at the end of this season but moved into third in the drivers’ championship with his second victory of the year on Sunday.

Asked if those errors have strengthened Ricciardo’s contract position, Horner replied: “Well, you could argue it both ways.

“You could say that it has made Daniel more expensive and put his value up or it’s made the team in a stronger position in terms of its value and potential to him. I think the reality is it’s finding a solution to conclude a deal with Daniel in the next couple of months. The first thing is to get the engine sorted and then very much follow on from there with the driver.

“Look, if you are giving away points through damage it is expensive on two counts, because one, it is costing money to repair the car and two, you are giving away valuable points in the constructors’ championship.

“We should be right there with Mercedes and Ferrari and we have probably given away 65 points this year. We need both drivers performing at optimum to be able to fight with those two teams.”

Ricciardo celebrates victory at Monaco. (Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT)

While Verstappen failed to capitalize on Red Bull having the quickest car — having secured a one-two in all three practice sessions in Monaco — Horner is encouraged by his team’s ability to show Ricciardo that it can deliver him  a championship-challenging chassis.

“I think it’s important he’s now on the same amount of victories as Lewis [Hamilton] and Sebastian [Vettel] six races into the season. I think in Bahrain he would have been a genuine contender had he not had a reliability issue and we all know what happened in Baku.

“He’s up to third in the championship now, and I think we’ve got a very strong car. You’ve seen that all weekend — he’s been the quickest driver. Pole position, race victory and even making up for the disadvantage that we had. He knows the quality of this team, he can see how well he fits in this team and I’m hopeful we can move these things along in the next couple of months.”

-Chris Medland

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