Thursday 16 March at 07:35 :
Mar.16 (GMM) Max Verstappen is a much better teammate for Daniel Ricciardo than was his Red Bull predecessor.
That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, having last year made the controversial decision to oust Daniil Kvyat and promote the teenage Dutchman Verstappen.
Russian Kvyat announced this week that his title dream is still alive, but his hopes will get a blow as Marko declares that Verstappen pushes Australian Ricciardo harder at the senior energy drink-owned F1 team.
"Daniil Kvyat could not push Ricciardo as hard as Verstappen," he told Sport Bild.
"Daniel had to learn how to deal with that but we've seen him get faster the more he was pushed," Marko added.
And the Austrian said he has no fear that the Ricciardo-Verstappen relationship will get out of control, in the way that Prost-Senna did.
"A healthy rivalry on the track is the best thing that can happen to a team," said Marko.
"But so far the competitive situation has not affected them in their work or privately. The two respect each other completely," he insisted.
However, Marko said it is Ferrari who will start the 2017 season closest to Mercedes, but he said Red Bull is determined to fight back.
"Mercedes is still the favourite," he said, "because the engine will still be the decisive factor.
"Renault is making progress in steps. The first will be in Barcelona when we get the second stage of development."