One of the real talking points of this season is the relative performance of the two Red Bull drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian keeps coming out on top against a four times world champion and Red Bull team director Helmut Marko this weekend offered an explanation.
Ricciardo got his first win in Montreal last time out and after again out-qualifying Vettel in Austria he is now 6-2 against the German.
But perhaps more telling is that his average grid slot is 3.6, while Vettel’s is 7.4.
In mitigation, Vettel has had a lot of technical issues this season, more than Ricciardo, but there is no doubt that the reigning champion has yet to fully get the measure of this 2014 Red Bull car; as he admitted yesterday there is clearly more performance than he is able to extract because Ricciardo is managing to find it.
Speaking to Australian TV Network 10 after qualifying in Austria Marko, who nurtured Ricciardo through the Red Bull driver programme and Toro Rosso, said that the problem is that Vettel is a perfectionist, where Ricciardo is able to drive around problems,
“To be fair Sebastian had far more technical troubles (than Ricciardo). On the other hand they both get the same material. If the car is not to his liking, Daniel seems to be more a driver who can handle it.
“Sebastian is a perfectionist; he needs to get the car really right and if it is not right he cannot make it like Daniel does.”
Asked what he thinks Ricciardo’s other strengths are as a driver, Marko added,
“First of all I have never seen him angry. He is very calm in the car, like he is siting there having a cup of tea. I’ve never seen him struggle with the pressure. He takes things as they are but he is very committed.
“We had a driver search a few years ago in Estoril and he was really impressive in qualifying performance. So he delivers and he is very good in his analysis.”
As for Ricciardo’s own explanation of how he keeps coming out ahead of his team mate the 24 year old from Perth, Australia said,
“Yes it’s been going well for me this season, I seem to be getting the most out of it. It’s nice; I guess I’m still young enough to keep improving, keep learning. I’m still going through that process of maturing and making sure I’m on the right side of things.
“Today I was 5th, he was 13th. It’s a big gap on the grid but not much in time (the margin was 0.163 seconds between them in Q2). It’s a short lap here and if you don’t get it right here you pay the price. We trail a lot in the first sector and make it up in the corners.”
Red Bull’s drivers are 17th and 18th in the speed trap at 195mph, compared to the Williams cars at 204mph. All eight Mercedes powered cars occupy the top eight speed trap times in Austria, which will make them quite hard to overtake unless they suffer higher tyre degradation than their rivals.