Toro Rosso's Tost has dig at Ricciardo while praising Verstappen

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Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has taken a dig at Daniel Ricciardo while praising the performance of Max Verstappen.

Occasional back and forths have flared up between the Australian and his former Red Bull team mostly over the reasons for his decision to join Renault this season.

A number of reasons have previously been raised by Ricciardo, including perceived favouritism towards Verstappen.

But Tost believes it is simply the Dutchman's ability which he was worried about.

"Max is currently one of the fastest drivers,” the Toro Rosso boss told

“I think one reason why Ricciardo left was certainly Max because he thought to himself: 'I won't beat him so easily anymore’."

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After finishing third last Sunday in Spain, Verstappen has again moved back ahead of Sebastian Vettel into third in the Drivers' standings behind the Mercedes pair.

But the start of his run of strong races can be traced back to Monaco last year, when a crash in final practice triggered a change which has remained with the 21-year-old since.

“He realised that he doesn't always have to go through the wall with his head,” Tost explained.

“Now he's reached a level where he'll compete for victories and the world championship if everything comes together.

"He also showed super overtaking manoeuvres where you didn't get the impression that it was on a knife's edge. He really has this maturity now that makes it possible for a driver to compete for a world championship.”