Daniel Ricciardo muses over Max Verstappens aggression in Lewis Hamilton battle

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McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo says former team-mate Max Verstappen has curbed his aggression on track but admitted “he still has it”. Verstappen was caught up in another incident with his main title rival Lewis Hamilton during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Dutchman appeared to run Hamilton wide on the exit of Turn 4 while defending hard, with the seven-time world champion forced to take evasive action.

The stewards “noted” the incident, but at the time decided against opening an investigation.

The McLaren driver spent three seasons alongside Verstappen after the Dutchman, then 18 years old made his step up from Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso.

And although he felt he had matured, Ricciardo says the aggression is still there.

“Well, it was certainly tough, it was tight, to state the obvious. Obviously, both cars went off track.,” said Ricciardo, speaking ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix.

“Being his [former Red Bull] team-mate, I don’t know if I have any more knowledge than from anyone watching from the outside.

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“Team-mate or not, we know Max, the calibre of driver he is, how he races. He’s always come in with an aggressive approach.

“But I think he has certainly matured over time, and he certainly finds himself in fewer incidents or accidents, as he was in the first year or so in F1.

“I think he’s definitely polished up that aggression but he still has it.”

Verstappen now leads the championship by 14 points over Hamilton with just three races remaining, looking for a maiden F1 title this season.

But Ricciardo sympathised with the 24-year-old, understanding the pressure he must be under.

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“Whether the move was, call it right or wrong, fighting for a win and the championship at this stage you are obviously going to try and fight for as long as you can, and do everything you can to hold onto that lead,” added the Australian.

“Obviously that one took them both off so maybe that was over the limit.

“I don’t think anything has changed over time since the first year. I think he has matured but the last few years the approach hasn’t changed.

“In a way, that’s what I’ve always respected. You know you are going to race hard with Max.”

Yet Ricciardo remained on the fence as to if the move was “too hard” from Verstappen.

“Who knows. I’m going to stay out of it,” added the Australian.

“I say I’ll stay out of it, they both went off track so you could say it was too hard because no one made the corner, so you could say that.

“But I think the approach is unchanged. I’m not in that position, fighting for a world title, I think you’re going to fight until the end.

“I don’t know if that would change if it happened again.”

A hearing took place on Thursday ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix after Mercedes lodged a right for review into the incident.

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