Daniel Ricciardo's podium spot that sealed his third place in the drivers' championship this year is proof of how he and Max Verstappen have 'raised the bar' at Red Bull this season, claims his boss.
The Australian's result in Mexico – where he finished fifth on the road but was promoted to third after penalties for Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel – means he now cannot be beaten to the best-of-the-rest slot behind Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believed that Ricciardo's performance in a campaign where many expected Ferrari to be Mercedes' main challenger was hugely positive, and boded well for his outfit's 2017 hopes.
"It is great news that Daniel has wrapped up third," explained Horner. "We have extended our lead in the constructors' championship [over Ferrari] by nine points, so I believe we are 62 points ahead, and Daniel has had an excellent season.
"With a combination of him and Max, they have been driving brilliantly well. So I'm looking forward to the final two races.
"It is really encouraging to see that we are getting closer and closer to Mercedes, and for Max to be able to have a go at Nico, having tailed him all the way through the race, is really good news.
"We are chipping away and chipping away and you are not seeing the margins that Mercedes had in previous years. That bodes well – not just for this year but for a more competitive F1 in 2017."
When asked if he felt Verstappen had brought the best out of Ricciardo this season, Horner said: "They are pushing each other. They have both raised the bar and the level that they are operating at now, it is good to witness, good to see – and they are constantly pushing each other further and further."
Ricciardo said that he was delighted to have finished third – even though Mexico had been frustrating at times because of the strategy he was on and the incidents around him.
"I am happy to get the points and that means I have sealed third in the drivers' championship," he said. "I am quite proud of that this year. Sure, it would have been nice to get up there on the podium [properly] and enjoy it, but nonetheless, that was the situation and it was a fun race.
"Even though I was frustrated in my media comments afterwards, I still have a fun battle and being the hunter at the end is much more exciting than driving around by yourself. The race came alive and it got a bit spicy but it was a cool day."