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Ricciardo: My year with Vettel was easy, I had no pressure

Sebastian Vettel will be forgiven a case of Deja Vu as he gets into the meat of the 2019 Formula 1 season with a young upstart challenging his position as the Ferrari number one driver as his former teammate Daniel Ricciardo did at Red Bull in 2014.

That year Vettel, a four-time F1 World Champion, was joined by then 24-year old Ricciardo who had been promoted from Toro Rosso to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull.

History shows that Ricciardo outshone his more illustrious teammate with three wins to Vettel’s none, and the Australian ending the season 71 points ahead of the German who departed at the end of that year for Ferrari, where he has remained since.

Speaking to Motorsport-Total, Ricciardo recalled that season, “I remember that it was exciting. I had the chance to drive for a top team and compete with the then current and four-time F1 world champion.”

“If I could get close to him, people would say: This Ricciardo is pretty good, he can compete with a four-time World Champion. There was no real pressure, it was just an option for me. It was cool, it was good, I enjoyed it.”

“Apart from the results, I wanted to learn from Seb. I know how meticulous he is and how much he invests in the sport, he lives and breathes Formula 1 and racing. I did not want to copy him, but to take some things from him that I found useful, but I wanted to retain my own style.”

“In a way, the year with Seb was very easy because, as I said, I had no pressure. I would have expected that it affected Seb harder. He was not always considered a good loser, but we had a good relationship with a good level of respect. I looked up to Seb in many ways, he had achieved a lot, but I never thought he was better than me.”

Ironically Ricciardo had a similar turn of events during his career when young gun Max Verstappen stepped up to Red Bull from Toro Rosso in 2016. The young Dutchman eventually getting the better of Ricciardo, to the point that last year he felt muscled out and departed for Renault.

Meanwhile, this year a similar story is playing itself out at Ferrari with young gun Charles Leclerc stepping up to challenge Vettel in the Italian team.

It would be fair to say that Vettel’s comfort zone might be rattled again as it was five years ago, nevertheless, the stage is set for an intriguing contest between Leclerc and the German with the memory of Ricciardo in 2014 a lesson for both Ferrari drivers.