Daniel Ricciardo believes his former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen has "ironed out" most of the mistakes and wild moves that impacted some of the Dutchman's races in the early stages of his career.
Verstappen became the youngest driver ever to race in Formula 1 when he was offered a seat with Toro Rosso in 2015. But four races into the 2016 season, the promising young talent was promoted to Red Bull Racing where he replaced Daniil Kvyat.
It was a thundering debut for Verstappen who won the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, becoming at just 18 years and 227 days the youngest ever winner in the history of Grand Prix racing.
But the Dutchman's subsequent development in F1 was a bumpy affair, marked by a few incidents and wild moves that left his rivals unimpressed. In the early part of 2018, Verstappen's results were undermined by a series of errors and run-ins that culminated with a blunder in free practice at Monaco where Ricciardo would go on to win the race.
The set back encouraged Verstappen to rein in his intrepid approach to racing.
Ricciardo raced alongside Verstappen from 2016 to 2018, a coexistence at Red Bull that was not without its tussles and flash points between the two fiercely competitive drivers.
But the Aussie believes that his former teammate has matured over the years and transformed into a solid racer without losing any of his blistering fast pace.
"I think Max was under a bit of let's say pressure in his first couple of years of F1 with some of the moves and that," said Ricciardo ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
"I definitely think he's ironed a lot of that out and I think he's just matured as a driver.
"For sure he'll always race hard. But, I mean, we were team-mates [for] three years [and] we came together twice, so that's pretty low numbers, I think."
After Verstappen's high-profile run-in with Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone last time out, Ricciardo suggested that Hamilton had gone into Copse corner "too hot for the given level of grip".
But in Budapest, the McLaren driver labeled the clash between the two title contenders a racing incident.
"They've been racing hard all year so I've put it down, generally to a racing incident," he said. "I think the main thing was that Max, let's say, got away safely.
"Obviously for his health and well being, it's great and also for the sake of the championship."