Daniel Ricciardo says the arrival of Max Verstappen at Red Bull has helped lift his driving to a new level in Formula 1.
Although Ricciardo has yet to win so far this year – with Verstappen triumphing in Spain on his first outing for Red Bull – the Australian has enjoyed a better run of podium finishes.
And having emerged as the main threat to Mercedes' domination in recent races, Ricciardo feels that his performances have been helped by the extra pressure Verstappen's arrival put him under.
"I think that was a bit of a step up in my personal career, in my driving," he said, when asked by Motorsport.com about the impact of having Verstappen alongside him.
"I always felt that I was at the limit and I think up until that point where Max arrived, that was what probably sparked the change – that I was performing quite well compared to Dany [Kvyat] from testing through to Russia. And then, Max came on board.
"I thought I was already driving at my limit but I guess there is something a little bit more, and I feel we have both given each other that.
"I feel Max has lifted his game even more and I have so, so it is cool to know we have a little bit more in the tank. I think we both – without knowing we had it – have found a bit more."
Ricciardo admitted he was "curious" ahead of Verstappen's arrival as to how he would compare against the Dutchman, as he knew there was a need to not get beaten.
"When you have a new teammate it is always exciting," he said. "I am sure it is another challenge but another person to try to learn from and improve my own game. That part is exciting and I can probably better myself.
"But sure I know if he comes into the team and kicked my arse 10 races in a row then my career would quickly go down. Sure there is always some curiosity, I wouldn't say nerves but pressure and curiosity – but for me as well it is exciting.
"I knew how hyped Max was. I had never seen his data and didn't know what he was bringing to the table but I knew that he was not afraid to give it a go. And I saw from first practice at Barcelona that he was on the limit of the car. So I thought this was going to be exciting…."
And ultimately, just as Ricciardo saw an opportunity to boost his profile by beating Sebastian Vettel, so too he knows the value of shining against Verstappen.
"When I had Seb. I knew if I could get the best of Seb, the four-time champion, it would do well for my career," he said.
"And I can go well against Max, who is the new kid on the block, it is something which if I can get on top of them, it will only help me out. I am not afraid. Just excited."