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2018 F1

Ricciardo would cope with Verstappen tension

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Daniel Ricciardo says he would “happily” deal with some more internal tension with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

Days ago, Dutch youngster Verstappen said that while he and Ricciardo get along, a 2018 championship battle between the pair might add spice to that harmony.

“We’ll see if I keep him on my birthday list,” Australian Ricciardo smiled.

“We both said at the start of last year that it would be a good problem to have — if we’re both fighting at the front and having some battles,” he added.

Ultimately, Mercedes and Ferrari got the early jump on Red Bull last year, but the former title-winning team is confident it can get a stronger start to 2018.

And Ricciardo said he and Verstappen can deal with any tension that might bring.

“If it’s ultimately deciding a world title we would happily run with that challenge,” he said.

“I believe this year we will close the gap. Is it enough to fight for a title? I think we can certainly get close but we’ll see.”

If he does have a better car, Ricciardo acknowledged that he will also have to deal with an ever-improving Verstappen.

“Max improved from 2016 to last year,” he admitted. “I won’t say he came a long way because he was always there but he certainly improved and I think next year it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

And he says he has some of his own improving to do as well.

“I had some great races, but obviously I would love all 20 to be great and not all 20 were,” said Ricciardo.

“Obviously I give every year a good crack, but (I want to) give this year a proper crack. I was pretty pleased with last year but I’ve still got some improvements to make.”

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