McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has praised former team-mate Max Verstappen, stating the Red Bull driver has “cleared up” emotions that led to mistakes early in his career.
Ricciardo was paired with Verstappen at Red Bull for much of the 2016 season through 2018, before Ricciardo opted to leave for Renault.
Since Ricciardo’s departure, Verstappen has led Red Bull’s driver line-up and is currently in the thick of a title fight against Lewis Hamilton.
“There was that stage in his young career he had speed but there were still a few mistakes or over-anxiousness or eagerness, but he quickly cleared that up,” Ricciardo said.
“2018 was the year that he learned from that and the second half of the season was really strong.
“You can see that click in maturity on track in the last few seasons for him have been pretty immense.”
Verstappen currently leads Hamilton by six points in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of this weekend’s race in the United States.
While the Dutchman is vying for his maiden title, Hamilton is searching for his eighth, which would break the all-time record he currently shares with Michael Schumacher.
However, Ricciardo doesn’t believe that Hamilton’s experience in title-winning scenarios will benefit him in the final stages of the 2021 season.
“Although Lewis has the experience of winning world titles, I do not see that as an advantage, I think they’re both capable,” Ricciardo said.
“Lewis has proven it, but I think Max’s capable, he is a pretty stable head now, and he has proven that with some of the drives that he has done this year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. I’m not part of that battle, so from a fan point of view you want it to go to the end.
“They have been nip and tuck all year, so it is good to watch. I do think that Max’s capable of it. Time will tell.”