Red Bull crash adds more tension to difficult relationship
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Red Bull’s bosses could be forgiven for seeing red after their drivers collided at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
When Daniel Ricciardo smashed into the back of the swerving Max Verstappen, it ended both their races and dealt an early but heavy blow to title challenge hopes. They have clashed before, but this incident comes as Ricciardo is publicly considering a move to Ferrari or Mercedes for next season.
The stewards ruled that Verstappen had moved twice to defend his position — when only one move is allowed — and said Ricciardo admitted he left it “too late” to overtake. Both drivers received a formal reprimand, and each apologized to Red Bull.
“This is the last thing we wanted. We want to be able to race and I’m thankful that the team let us race,” Ricciardo said. “Everyone is pretty heartbroken.”
Verstappen said he didn’t want the team to stop him fighting Ricciardo on the track in the future.
“We will learn from this and have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Verstappen said.
The incident echoes an earlier generation of Red Bull rivalry. The relationship between the team’s two star drivers of the early 2010s, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, turned increasingly toxic during their five seasons together, especially after they collided while fighting for the lead in Turkey in 2010. In later years, the team limited how much Vettel and Webber could compete, sometimes imposing team orders for one driver to let the other through.
Verstappen has been under the microscope this season for his aggressive racing style. To his fans, he adds spirit to a sport which can sometimes seem sterile; to his critics he’s downright dangerous. At the last race in China, he hit Vettel’s Ferrari, dropping the German to eighth.
Ricciardo publicly criticized Verstappen at last year’s race in Hungary after Verstappen swerved into him trying to overtake and knocked Ricciardo out of the race. Unusually for him, Verstappen subsequently apologized.
After being on the receiving end of reckless driving at the Singapore GP last September, Vertappen was quick to blame Sebastian Vettel after the German driver caused a first-turn crash that put both of them out. He also had heated verbal clashes with Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen during the 2016 season.