SAO PAULO, Brazil — Daniel Ricciardo says he meant Max Verstappen no disrespect with his exuberant celebrations after claiming pole in Mexico, but can understand why his Red Bull teammate would have been upset.
Ricciardo snatched a shock pole from Verstappen in Mexico City two weeks ago after the Dutchman had dominated the weekend’s sessions up to that point. Both men displayed vastly contrasting emotions on the Saturday afternoon: Ricciardo was celebrating his first pole position since May’s Monaco Grand Prix after a stunning lap late in Q3, while Verstappen looked and sounded upset after missing out on claiming the first of his F1 career, which he later blamed on a combination of issues with his car.
Their fortunes swung 180 degrees the following day, with Verstappen getting the jump on Ricciardo at the start and winning the race. Ricciardo later retired, continuing his miserable run of form, and cut a despondent figure before leaving the Mexico City paddock on Sunday evening.
After the race Jos Verstappen said his son had been made “very angry” by Ricciardo’s celebrations and helped spur him on to victory the following day.
When asked about those comments, Ricciardo said: “I am not aware of that. I was aware Max was pissed after quali, the press conference and that you could tell he was not too pleased.
“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 pissed. Even if I missed that pole, if I was in his shoes, even if it was not for my first pole, I would still be upset. That is the competitor in us.
“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 favorite all weekend, topping all the sessions, and to get pipped by your teammate by two hundredths, it is going to piss you off. That is just the competitor.”
At his own session shortly afterwards, Verstappen said he had been more angry at the situation of missing out on pole position when he had been so comfortable to that point.
“I was mainly very angry because of the problems I’ve had with my engine during qualifying and then you know, that weekend I was clearly the fastest but just for 75 seconds I wasn’t. So yeah I was literally pissed off.
“Then of course every little thing which comes with it makes me even more angrier, I could literally… I prefer not to say. I could literally do some damage if somebody would say something wrong to me after qualifying. That’s how angry I was. So yeah, every little thing makes me more angry.”