Ricciardo must quickly try and figure out what makes Vettel tick
The news that Daniel Ricciardo has been confirmed as Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull teammate for the 2014 season brings to an end one of the worst kept secrets of the midseason break.
It’s surely a foregone conclusion that as the team leader, Vettel will take his young Aussie teammate to the cleaners in 2014 and have all the backing to do so. Or will he?
Ricciardo will surely have done his homework on his new teammate and Vettel likewise. But if either hasn’t, there is the potential for both to come unstuck.
Here then are five lessons both must learn about one another before the start of the 2014 season, starting with what Vettel must learn.
If Vettel thinks he will now have things easy with one Australian off his back, he’d better think again.
Ricciardo is proud of being the first Australian F1 driver to come from Perth and he’s not frightened of mixing it at the sharp end of the grid as his seventh place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix proved.
Following the announcement that he will drive for Red Bull, Ricciardo told BBC Sport he’s not frightened of going head-to-head against Vettel.
Next year I'll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I'm ready for that. I'm not here to run around in 10th place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team. It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel; I'm looking forward to that.
Ricciardo was seventh in China
It didn’t take Ricciardo long to make an impact in F1 with Toro Rosso, the Australian finishing in the points on his F1 debut for the team in Australia.
If Vettel is ruthless, he will take a leaf out of Ayrton Senna's and Michael Schumacher’s book and not share too many secrets regarding car set-up with his new teammate.
Does my bum look big in this?
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, Ricciardo had a seat fitting for his Red Bull car this week but it was a struggle for the Aussie to get his bum into Adrian Newey’s tight chassis.
I’ve got wide hips. It’s not my arse per se. I guess it’s genetic. Even when I signed for Toro Rosso we had a few seat fits and they did some scans to make that part of the cockpit a bit wider, so that we’re not sitting on the actual carbon fibre. But yeah, I’ve heard that Adrian does like to build small race cars. I can’t do much about it. Even if I go on a massive diet my hip bones aren’t going to change.
So if Vettel does find himself in the unlikely situation of being beaten by Ricciardo, he can always test the Aussie’s theory and buy him a cake every time he outscores him or even more drastically slip his spare seat into the Aussie’s chassis.
If all else fails, Ricciardo can always get on the blower to his Aussie mate Mark Webber and take some inside advice on how to get under the German’s skin.
Webber has already said the appointment of his understudy is “good for Australia” and I’m sure he would only be to willing to help him out.
Ricciardo won the British Formula 3 Championship with Carlin Motorsport with seven race wins, six poles and 12 podiums back in 2009.
A certain Ayrton Senna won the series and Jim Clark also won it twice.
Vettel is not only the youngest world champion but the youngest three-time world champion the sport has known. He’s riding the crest of a wave and has every right to do so
And having been pushed by Mark Webber at times surely now is the time that he will relax and let his guard down, thinking Ricciardo is no threat. That may be a mistake.
Just look what happened to the great Senna when Mika Hakkinen joined him at McLaren in 1993. The Finn out-qualified the stunned Brazilian in Portugal on his debut for the team and finished third in his next outing in Japan although Senna took the race win.
Eddie Irvine did exactly the same in his first race for Ferrari against Michael Schumacher, qualifying third ahead of the German and finishing third after Schumacher retired.
Strike when the iron is hot!
A fact that Ricciardo is probably well aware of is that his new teammate can lose his head pretty quickly. Just look at Turkey 2010 or Malaysia this year for examples of that.
If push comes to shove, Ricciardo has the advantage of precedent on his side. But just how tough is he prepared to get to prove he’s not just going to be the team whipping boy?
According to Wikipedia, Vettel is a big fan of the British pop and comedy legends.
The Red Bull motorhome is famous for its party atmosphere and love of loud music on the Sunday following a successful GP weekend.
Should Ricciardo’s luck be in, all he need do is plug his iPod into the system for a rendition of “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” or maybe “Help!”
Beware if it’s your birthday Daniel because Seb may try to smear cake in your face.
He’s already done it to David Coulthard and if he’s read about your cheeky little seat fitting problem he may just try and do the same to you.
Just say no!
Vettel named his first Red Bull RB5 chassis ‘Kate’ because according to Vettel it should be named after a girl, just like a ship, as it’s sexy.
Guess what happened to Kate? It got smashed up in the opening race in Australia. Hang on a second, isn’t that Daniel’s home race?
Now where’s that permanent marker pen for March 2014.