Dan denies pole joy a dig at Verstappen
DANIEL Ricciardo has rejected claims he rubbed his qualifying success at the Mexico Grand Prix in Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen’s face.
Australian 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.
The Dutchman had the last laugh, winning the main race 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.
Ricciardo, speaking ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, said he didn’t mean to offend anyone and, while he knew Verstappen was upset, didn’t believe that anger was directed his way.
“I am not aware of that (Jos’s comments). 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. 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.”
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso suspects the Brazilian Grand Prix may be his last real chance of adding to his career points tally before he leaves Formula One at the end of the month.
“The circuit is definitely better than Abu Dhabi, the next one, so if we want to score points this is the chance for us,” the McLaren driver said.
“We have some unsettled weather for Saturday and Sunday so maybe that also gives us other possibilities. I am quite optimistic.”