BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer battle on track during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer battle on track during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Behind the scenes spray left Dan fuming

Daniel Ricciardo has unearthed another key moment in his declining relationship with Red Bull, which eventually saw him drop the former Formula One heavyweights to pursue a contract with Renault.

While Ricciardo's shock exit from the Austrian based-team has been covered extensively, it will likely be the only thing on reporters' lips when probing the Australian in the coming months.

Whispers of Red Bull playing favourites with Max Verstappen gradually picked up speed as the wheels slowly fell Ricciardo's final year with the team. A particularly pointed moment at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where the pair sensationally collided and ruined Red Bull's weekend, was one of the nails in the coffin for Ricciardo.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the crash that irked the Aussie most, but what happened after.

Verstappen and Ricciardo had been at each other's throats for much of the race on the streets of Baku. Their high-speed collision with 11 laps remaining appeared almost inevitable.

On the longest and fastest straight on the Formula One calendar, Ricciardo lined up his overtake in the battle for fourth.

But as Verstappen moved to his left to cover off his teammate, Ricciardo was left with little room for manoeuvre and thudded into the back of him. In an instant, both cars were wiped out of the race.

The pair were hauled into Helmut Marko's office, copped a beatdown from the Red Bull boss and were forced to apologise to the entire team for the blunder.

But Ricciardo, who was defending a stunning 2017 victory at the Middle Eastern circuit, didn't think the blame was dished out fairly and attributed the fiasco to the "kaleidoscope" of irks which eventually saw him jump ship in August.

Baku 2018: Moments before disaster.
Baku 2018: Moments before disaster.

"I couldn't tell you how many little pieces made up the puzzle, the kaleidoscope, but I guess that [Baku] was one of the little pieces," Ricciardo said via Motorsport.com.

"We both got a talking to, putting it politely, but in my eyes, I felt like I was not really in the wrong even though I was the one that hit him. I think most people saw the double move.

"Even before that, there was a lot of contact and I think a lot of people thought it went on too long.

"I guess the way it was handled at the time didn't sit too well with me, so that was like a little thing that bothered me. But it wasn't the dealbreaker, if you know what I mean."

The Aussie, who is currently deep in pre-season preparation with his new team, thought Verstappen should have been punished more extensively.

"Yeah. Handling the media I get, and it [Red Bull] is a big brand to look after. So again it doesn't help if we both go off at each other and that.

"I kind of felt like there was a bit of equal blame. And maybe that is me being a stubborn race car driver, but I didn't feel it was an equal incident I guess. That is the easiest way to put it."

The rivalry between Ricciardo and the fiery Dutchman over their three seasons together will forever be a point of interest on the Formula One circuit. Verstappen, the son of former racing supremo Jos, was everything a rebuilding team could dream of.

A number of race wins pointed to a huge future for the 21-year-old and while Ricciardo's season continued to deteriorate, it appeared clear which man was staying put in 2019.

But Ricciardo insists the firebrand wasn't playing politics within in the team.

"I don't necessarily think Max was political. Max is just Max," he said. "Even now it is done and I don't need to be careful with what I say, it was actually pretty good.

"Look, some of the flamboyancy with Max, that is just with age as well, and I guess from that point of view I would expect less with Nico [Hulkenberg] just because it is a bit of an age gap and maturity.

"Nico has been around the block plenty of times. But going back to Max ... I don't think he was political. It was fun."



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