Daniel Ricciardo expects to be given a fair fight with Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen in 2018, despite the Australian still holding back on signing a new contract with the Milton Keynes-based team.
Christian Horner has wanted Ricciardo join Verstappen in signing a new long-term contract, but the team owner has said Red Bull could build the team around the Dutchman, but Ricciardo has been given reassurances that the team would not favour one driver over another.
“That is not what you want to hear,” said Ricciardo to Motorsport.com about Horner’s comment. “I didn’t see it in the press but afterwards I found out about Christian’s comment.
“It was because he actually came up to me and cleared it up. He said ‘look, if you’ve seen the comments, it’s not out of context but I didn’t want it to come across that way’.
“He said ‘please, I don’t want you to think anything like that. We’re fighting for both of you’. Max got the updated engine in the last few races, that was the only thing that has ever been different. But I don’t have any concern with it. If I did, I would have spoken up about it already.”
Ricciardo, who is still dragging his heels over a new contract, still believes in his own ability, and even if the engine upgrade were to be a tenth-of-a-second faster, he would still feel he could beat Verstappen.
“Even if the engine is a tenth quicker, I’ve just got to drive two tenths better,” said Ricciardo. “If I’m good enough, I’ll beat him anyway! I’m confident.
“I acknowledge that I have to be perfect more often than not if I want to stay in front. My Sundays this year were as good as they’ve ever been for the most part. The racer in me is very confident and determined.”