Daniel Ricciardo says he is not "naïve" about his good relationship with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen and expects tensions to rise if the team is competitive next season.
Ricciardo and Verstappen claimed a win apiece in 2016 as Red Bull beat Ferrari to second in the championship. The big regulation changes next year place more emphasis on aerodynamics, an area Red Bull has always excelled, leading to expectations the former world champions could be back in front.
Mercedes has enjoyed three years of dominance since the introduction of V6 turbos but that period was marked by a tense relationship between childhood friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as they battled for successive championships. Ricciardo, who credits Verstappen's arrival at Red Bull with his improvement in form throughout the year, is not ruling out a similar change next year at Red Bull.
When asked about how he expects the relationship with Verstappen to be in 2017, Ricciardo told the team's website: "Well, I'm not naïve. If we're fighting for wins I'm sure the pressure and tension will rise - but hopefully we'll be able to look each other in the eye and say 'good job' afterwards."
Ricciardo's win came after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel fight with Verstappen at Malaysia shortly before Lewis Hamilton's engine failure, which propelled the Red Bull drivers to a one-two finish. Ricciardo hopes the pair can continue a close but fair fight in 2017.
"Hopefully [it will continue] -- because that was really cool! I know for sure that when we were side by side we were both thinking it was our position and the other guy was in the way. We were going for it 100 per cent. But I think we both knew the limit of the car and our responsibility to the team. You trust your own ability but also the ability of the other guy."