Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Daniel Ricciardo has been officially confirmed at Red Bull for next season replacing Mark Webber. This continues the tradition of having an Australian at Red Bull, will it also continue the tradition of the Australian being the number 2 driver? I could hear the howls of protestations at the news, including mine. Not that I wanted Kimi or Alonso to go there but doesn't matter who does, will they get equal treatment to Vettel after what we've seen the last 3 years?

Of course on the surface of it, one would assume that Ricciardo will get the short end of the stick. He's new, young and a product of the Red Bull young driver program. Of course he has to toe the party line, even Red Bull die hards will have to admit as much. But if he outshines Vettel, will he get nipped in the bud? Will his car have some unexplained problems during races? Will his clutch fail to engage properly at starts? Will Helmut Marko...well, lets not even go there, we all know Helmut.

Team boss Christian Horner seems to believe that Ricciardo will get equal treatment. Of course he does, he is also toeing the company line.
"The decision to take a junior driver doesn't mean anything changes," Horner said. "Both drivers will get the same opportunity and the same equipment, but inevitably there will be a natural pecking order determined by the driver who is in front on track. Sebastian has won a lot of races and is a multiple world champion, so with that comes a lot of expectation. But the reality is that both drivers, as has always been the case, will get identical opportunity and equipment.

"Daniel is very quick and we know he's very quick and Sebastian is the best in the business at the moment. It's very tough to be his [Vettel's] team-mate so it will be a big surprise for him. But I think people are going to be surprised at the pace that Daniel does have. We've seen it at the simulator and at track tests, and we've seen flashes in the Toro Rosso.

"I think he really does have a natural ability. He's a good personality, a good guy to work with and I've never seen him yet without a smile on his face. For sure, now he will be smiling from ear to ear."
Ok, this is how it's gonna work..
 But the cynic in all of us, well at least the non-Vettel fans, will always be believing that that is not the case. That Vettel will always get away with it. And Ricciardo will be a number 2. Is this 100% true? What about the sensible explanation? I there one? Pitpass, known for their sensible, well informed comments had this to say:
As exciting as it would have been to see two world champions as teammates, this is not something Red Bull requires to ensure success. Vettel has demonstrated that he can carry a world championship and at just 26 years of age is already a very complete driver and is still improving. The team can therefore afford to take a chance on another driver and they have time to nurture him.

Though Vettel is entrenched in the team, Ricciardo shares the same foundation to his relationship with Red Bull, having come through their Driver Development Program. This should aid his integration into the environment and the team will want him to succeed in the long term.
Read the full article HERE. Not very convincing either. I guess the only way we will find out is with time. On the face of it, Red Bull is very concerned about the constructors title which brings in the money and the drivers title which brings in the publicity. If Ricciardo can bring in the points for the team, then Vettel will still have the upper hand.
Apparently Red Bull's placement of him in their car at the Silverstone (Young) Driver Test was to make a comparison to Vettel and evaluate whether he has the necessary capability to score 200 points to support a Constructor's Championship bid. That he has secured the seat indicates Red Bull feels he has at least that potential.
I guess the cynics will still have the upper hand here in the battle of perceptions. I do hope Ricciardo will shine in a better car and fight Vettel so we don't have another year of Vettel dominance. It would be good for the championship.

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