Published on The Australia Times Issue 3
By Loren Hazelwood @LorenHazelwood
Sebastian Vettel. A name well-known in Australian households for being the German that caused fans to yell at their TV sets every time he was near or in front of our Australian Mark Webber.
He’s won world championship after world championship, and the more he won, the more frustrated Australian fans have become, saying, “Why can’t Webber achieve the same results?”
Well, this year should be completely different for our Aussie fans.
With Webber now retired and racing for Porsche, young-pup Daniel Ricciardo has graduated from his team at Torro Rosso, joining the German at the top of Formula 1. And to most people’s surprise (Vettel’s in particular), the young Aussie has outperformed his teammate on numerous occasions this season.
With the new generation of Australian racing overseas, Ricciardo has built respect with his new teammate, managing to outshine his world champion colleague.
In three out of four races this year, Ricciardo has blitzed Vettel in qualifying, and has also finished races in front of the German, causing a bit of tension in the pit paddock at Red Bull.
At the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Vettel was in front of Ricciardo, with both running different tyre strategies. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner immediately went on the radio to Vettel sending him a team order to let through our Aussie racer.
Vettel’s reply was simply, “Tough love.”
Ricciardo then raced Vettel passing him into Turn 1, enabling Ricciardo to finish fourth, with Vettel fifth overall.
Although Vettel is currently in front of Ricciardo in the Drivers’ Championship, this won’t stop Ricciardo over-achieving at his new squad.
With the new 1.6-litre turbo-charged power trains, this season of Formula 1 has been nothing but completely unpredictable.
We thought we’d see many surprises, but would never predict seeing an Australian finally stand on the podium in Melbourne only to later be stripped of second place due to a fuel system failure.
Everyone could see from the Australian Grand Prix that Ricciardo had pace, and that he knew how to drive these innovative cars.
With a year that has so far been dominated by Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton taking the last three race victories, it’s easy to say that Red Bull seem not to have the pace and straight-line speed they had over the last four years.
Vettel has been struggling with the new car technology, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ricciardo passed the world champion in the Drivers’ Championship.
Australia only has two Formula 1 World Champions including Alan Jones and Sir Jack Brabham. Webber was extremely close but was outshone by Vettel; can our Ricciardo defeat the German and make it three drivers to take the momentous championship? Only time will tell…