Horner: Ricciardo and Verstappen Red Bull’s strongest pairing

Images by JEP/LAT

Horner: Ricciardo and Verstappen Red Bull’s strongest pairing

Formula 1

Horner: Ricciardo and Verstappen Red Bull’s strongest pairing

Christian Horner believes the pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen has been the best line-up he has had at Red Bull.

Ricciardo and Verstappen became teammates four races into the 2016 season when the Dutchman replaced Daniil Kvyat, and between them have won nine races since then. 2018 was their most productive season with two wins apiece, and Horner says the two drivers have helped get the best out of each other in their time as a pairing.

“I said to them in our last debrief that for me, it’s been our best partnership that we’ve had in Red Bull Racing’s career,” Horner said. “In fact it’s probably the best one I have ever had in my career in terms of the dynamics between the two, the respect, the way they have pushed each other on.

“I think that’s on-track, and I think they have both benefited each other off-track. Max has learned a lot from Daniel, the way he’s operated himself within the team and it’s been a very good rapport and they’ve both pushed each other to new levels.”

After five years with Red Bull since being promoted from Toro Rosso, Ricciardo will join Renault next season and Horner says the Australian’s presence will be missed in a number of different ways.

“He’s been a pleasure to have in the team the last five years. He’s been with Red Bull since 2007, and it has been great to see him grow and evolve.

“Ironically, when we were first faced with a dilemma of who do we replace Mark Webber with — there was Jean-Eric Vergne, there was Daniel Ricciardo, there was Kimi Raikkonen — our biggest concern about Daniel wasn’t his pace but it was that we hadn’t seen him race wheel to wheel while he was at Toro Rosso. And ever since he’s been in a Red Bull Racing car he’s done nothing but overtake — and arguably has become the best overtaker in the business.

Ricciardo and Verstappen mistreating puppets at Suzuka. (Image by Zak Mauger/LAT)

“He’s driven some fantastic races for us. His personality has been a tremendous fit for the brand. His energy in the team has been hugely popular, the dynamics with him and Max — you’ve only got to look at the mischief they get up to — it’s been great. All we can do, as that chapter closes, is wish him the best of luck for the future and a new chapter opens with a new talent in Pierre Gasly.”

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