Incoming McLaren F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has mellowed out from the time when he oversaw the Aussie’s career.

Marko is a notoriously ruthless character in the paddock, overseeing among the most successful driver development programs in modern F1 and managing driver line ups at Red Bull and AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso through at times merciless tactics.

Earning a reputation for the mid-season firing of Daniil Kvyat in 2016 to promote Max Verstappen, and even the mid-season replacement of Pierre Gasly, Marko is often regarded as an unrelenting figure, but Ricciardo suggests he has become more mellow since his own time under the Austrian.

Ricciardo left Red Bull in 2018, but was last at Toro Rosso in 2013. “Helmut, he’s softened a little actually, he’s softened a little over the last few years,” Ricciardo began to media including F1,, Motorsport Network, BBC and more. “I feel, maybe it’s because I was younger, but definitely the early days of myself being in the junior team I was always pretty petrified to have a one-on-one with him but I feel maybe it’s just maturity.

“But I feel he’s a little nicer these days. But I think with Helmut as well you get 100% transparency and honesty so if you don’t do a good job he’ll tell, so I think you just have to be willing to receive some constructive criticism at times and not take everything to heart but acknowledge that, I think he’s really saying these things as well to get the best out of you and he says it because he cares and believes in you.

“So I think if he’s willing to give you that criticism in a way take it as a compliment,” summed up Ricciardo, as he adds on their annual bets they have, which didn’t happen in 2020. “We were supposed to do a bet this year but we didn’t in the end but actually what I had in mind I think I would have won but last year he won a few Euros off me so he’s got the upper hand in the betting department. I’m not really into it but anyways, if he comes up with a good bet in 2021 then yes, I’ll…it’s a nice way to keep our relationship going.”

Here’s James Key, Andrea Stella on Daniel Ricciardo