Christian Horner snubs Max Verstappen as he names F1 star who is ‘first place in his heart’

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has named Daniel Ricciardo as the driver who has “first place in his heart” – instead of record-breaking Max Verstappen.

The 50-year-old was involved in a chat with his children during the latest episode of Drive to Survive on Netflix. He asked his daughter who her favourite driver was – to which she replied ‘all of them’.

However, when asked the same question, Horner actually had a surprise answer as he replied: “Daniel Ricciardo.” The 34-year-old Australian was with Red Bull’s second side Toro Rosso for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

He moved to Red Bull the following campaign until 2018, with his highlights being two third-placed finishes in the Driver’s Championships. Ricciardo quit the side for Renault in 2019, while he has represented McLaren and Scuderia Alpha Tauri since then.

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He could potentially be set for a return. He will be driving for the newly rebranded Visa Cash App RB (VCARB) team for 2024 but is seen as a potential replacement for Sergio Perez, whose contract expires at the end of the campaign.

It is certainly a surprise to see Horner opt for Ricciardo given the huge amount of success Verstappen has brought to Red Bull. The 26-year-old has won each of the last three Drivers’ Championship – his 2023 effort being the most dominant campaign in the history of the sport.

Red Bull have won the previous two titles and they could match Lotus’ haul of seven with another success this year. Horner previously suggested that Verstappen was the best driver currently in F1.

Speaking to Motorsport Magazine last year, the Red Bull chief said: “He’s just grown and grown as a driver and as a human being. I think the speed and skill has always been there. He’s just rounded it with experience now. And the capacity that he has within the car to be taking on and thinking about other things is outstanding.

Daniel Ricciardo
Christian Horner picked out Daniel Ricciardo as his favourite 
Getty Images)
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“To be able to read the race, to be able to nurse tyres the way he does, to understand what he needs to deliver strategically to make something work, is extraordinary and I think he’s just very much the complete driver.

“We knew he was a very special talent, but only time would tell what that talent would yield, and it needed us to give him the tools to deliver as well. And thankfully, we’ve been able to do that, and he’s used them in the best possible way. And so what he’s done the last three years, it’s just been sensational.

“I think Max, where he is at the moment is the best driver currently in Formula 1. He’s the world champion, and he is – without a shadow of a doubt – the very best driver Formula 1 currently has.”

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