Weighing in on his former team-mates’ Austrian GP clash, Daniel Ricciardo says Max Verstappen’s rivals know he’s a tough racer and they won’t get more than an “extra centimetre” from him at best.

Verstappen and Lando Norris, both former team-mates of Ricciardo’s, came to blows at the Austrian Grand Prix when they collided while fighting for the lead of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo: Was anything dangerous or reckless?

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Running second, Norris tried to pass the Red Bull driver around the outside of Turn 3 only for Verstappen to close the door. Both cars suffered punctures and crawled back to the pits where Norris retired while Verstappen bolted on fresh rubber and finished fifth.

The crash, which was the first headline-grabbing incident in Formula 1’s newest rivalry, has dominated headlines since with just about everyone giving their two pennies worth.

Ricciardo reckons it has all been overblown.

“I’m assuming they’ve probably blown it up,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com. “Because it’s obviously a battle for the lead. And, you know, once friends now enemies, it’s probably that going on. I can only imagine.

“But I think if you look at it, it’s hard but you’re also fighting for a win so you’re not gonna just wave someone by and I think the contact that can happen probably nine times out of 10 with no consequence.

“I think the outcome was bigger than probably what was actually happening on track. I don’t think what I saw at least seemed over the top. Was it pushing the edge? Probably. But was anything dangerous or reckless? At least from what I’ve seen, no.”

Asked if Verstappen was a “hard” racer who “pushed the limits”, Ricciardo replied: “You know that, you expect that but I don’t want to spotlight Max.

“I think when you’re fighting for a win, are you going to fight harder than fighting for 15th place? Honestly, yes because that’s just how it is. So it’s to be expected.

“I’m not saying whether everything was correct and by the book, maybe some things were pushing it, but I don’t think… They’re going to talk about it because it’s for the win and probably try to create some enemies out of two kids that get along.

“But yeah, I think honestly it’s good. Good that there’s a hard battle for the lead and unfortunately, it ended that way for them. But that’s how it goes.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: Most give an inch, Max only a centimetre

From his perspective, Ricciardo says the crash was the result of two drivers going for a race victory, neither of whom wanted to wave the white flag.

“No one in this sport wants to be the one that gets bullied,” he said. “You want to stand your ground against everyone. And obviously it’s your reputation as well.

“And when people come up to you on track, you don’t want them to think, ‘Oh, this guy is going to be an easy one for me’. So you always want to have your elbows out to an extent.

“We know Max from day one has always had his out. And I think just naturally in his DNA, he just a tough racer. So it’s not something he has to really dig deep for. That’s just how he races.

“So it’s kind of unconditional with him that you’re gonna get a tough battle. But it doesn’t necessarily maybe change the way you race him, you just know that you’re gonna have to pull off a really good move and make sure you make it stick.

“I think Lando learned that on Saturday [in the Sprint when he overtook Verstappen and the Red Bull driver came back the very next corner]. He thought he probably had it done and Max said, ‘Not today’. You live, and you learn.

“Lando made some bold moves on Sunday and had his elbows out, too and said I said it was unfortunate that the outcome was what it.”

The crash has raised the question of driver etiquette with Norris accusing Verstappen of moving under braking while the stewards penalised the Red Bull driver for being predominantly to blame for the collision as he moved left.

Ricciardo accepts that drivers will “maybe push it a little more than they should and try to get away with it” in the midst of an “intense” battle.

“But,” he added, “I think we all know that we’re doing our best and I think we have enough trust in everyone. Even if Max in this situation, we know he is a tougher racer, it’s not that we don’t trust going side by side with him. Not at all.

“It’s just, you’re gonna get that extra inch that maybe someone will give you, you probably just won’t get that [with Max]. You might get a centimetre, but that’s okay.”

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