Max Verstappen says he is still approaching the remainder of his 2016 Formula 1 season as a 'learning year' at Red Bull, despite having already notched up a win and a further podium in the five races he has competed with the team.
The 18 year-old made history by becoming the youngest driver to win an F1 race with victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen managing the feat in his first outing with Red Bull Racing having been promoted from the sister Toro Rosso outfit.
Since then Verstappen has thrived, producing eye-catching performances in Canada and particularly last time out in Austria when an alternative one-stop strategy spurred him on to a second place finish.
Despite this, Verstappen says there are still areas he can improve, particularly in qualifying where he has been attempting to learn from Ricciardo as part of preparations geared towards a full attack in 2017.
“You should not forget I am driving next to someone [Ricciardo] who is really quick. So it is a bit different approach for me now, I have to up my game from where I was before in Toro Rosso because he is very quick.
“Daniel is on top of that [qualifying]. Of course maybe he has had some struggles in the race, but that is also where I enjoy it – that is my part, the race. I just need to find a way how to get it a bit better in qualifying.
“I learn a lot from it [having a quick team-mate], and that is my approach to this season in general, just learn a lot to be ready for next year. And yes he is on top of that. I am definitely catching up, and the last two weekends have not shown what I am capable of in qualifying, so I am actually not too worried.
“At the end you can do a great qualifying lap but it is all about the race where you score the points, and so far that is going really well. So I don't really have a lot to complain about. I am very happy at the moment.”
A measure of the mature attitude Verstappen has exerted since his move to Red Bull, the Dutchman says he has been intentionally tuning his car to perform in the race, a strategy he feels worked wonders in Austria when he finished second from eighth on the grid.
“You are always trying to get the best possible car on Sunday because that is where you get the points.
“Maybe a little bit [of a compromise] but not too much because you want to be quick over one lap to have a reasonable starting position. I started eighth and finished second, so there are still a lot of opportunities if you have a good car in the race you can overtake instead of struggling on the tyres and just trying to hang on.”