Max Verstappen has taken a dig at Daniel Ricciardo, suggesting that his former teammate wasn’t as close to his pace.

Verstappen joined Ricciardo after being promoted from the junior team in 2016. The two drivers were evenly matched on pace, until Ricciardo left the team at the end of 2018. Since then, Verstappen has had three teammates, and none of them have matched his level.

The Dutchman has improved in these three years, and the driver who faced Ricciardo has only gotten better. When asked if the comparison was fair, Verstappen took a dig at Ricciardo, suggesting that he was matching him despite lesser experience.

“I think I also got better eventually, because I have more and more experience,” Verstappen said, as quoted by Racingnews365.com.

“So, I find it also difficult to really compare fairly, you know.

“I find it a bit unfair to say that he was maybe more close, and I think there are a lot of things to it.

“For sure, at the time, Daniel is, you know… he’s still quite a bit older and more experienced.

Former teammates Verstappen (right) and Ricciardo (left). Source: Getty Images

“But I think I gained a lot of experience in the last few years, while in the beginning of course I was still quite new and I didn’t really have a lot of car racing experience, because I had one year in F3, basically one year in Toro Rosso and then moved to Red Bull.

“And I definitely think there the big jump started to happen, which I think is a natural process in the first five years of your F1 career.”

The road not taken

Ricciardo beat Verstappen in the 2016 and 2017 World Championship standings, but lost to his teammate the following year. Following that season, he left to join Renault, and two years later, he made the switch to McLaren, where he currently races.

Verstappen stayed at Red Bull and found his footing. He is now a prime contender for the World Championship, a title that has eluded Ricciardo throughout his career.

Read more: Hamilton points to key factor behind why 2021 title battle against Verstappen is “not his hardest”

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