Daniel Ricciardo has flatly rejected the assertion there may be some malice in the way he was denied victory in the Spanish Grand Prix 'in favour' of new team-mate Max Verstappen.
A strategic error by Red Bull Racing during the closing stages of the Barcelona race would ultimately lose Ricciardo a shot at victory, though it would open the door for Verstappen – making his team debut at the event – to reel off a sensational victory instead.
However, Ricciardo says there is no suggestion there was anything underhand in the way his strategy was devised, saying he took the time to understand the decision-making process in the days after the race. Though he remains frustrated with the outcome of the missed opportunity, he is satisfied it was made with the 'right intentions'
“Even though I was massively frustrated with the outcome of Barcelona, I never thought anything suspicious," he said. "Deep down I knew it was all with the right intentions and it just didn't work.
“I spoke a lot with the team and had a lot of explanations, the reasons why we pitted, and basically at the time it seemed like the three stop was the best thing to do.
“They didn't believe that the two stop would have worked as well as it did. So it didn't fall in my favor, but that obviously sucked. But there was no other agenda behind it.”
Indeed, Ricciardo says he isn't dwelling on Verstappen's success and the impact on him, saying he doesn't want his grievances with the poor strategy to take anything away from the young Dutchman's achievement.
“Whether the strategy had not worked for Max, he still did a really good race. And even if we all had a three stop he still would have had a podium – wherever it was, I don't know – but he still would have got a podium in his first race with the team. So whichever way the race went Max was always getting a good result. He had already done a really good weekend and shown that he had adapted really quickly.
“So I wouldn't take anything away from Max, obviously what he has done has been great, and to then win and make the tires last was really good. Now people say what they want to say, if he is already better or this or that, but he did well, he did very well. That is that.
“There are still many races to go and many more opportunities hopefully for us to get on the podium and fight for wins. But I still believe a lot in my ability.”