Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo has proven himself at Red Bull

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Daniel Ricciardo believes his performances in the first six races since his move to Red Bull have proved he was the right choice.

When his predecessor Mark Webber announced his retirement midway through 2013 many believed Ricciardo would be the logical replacement for Red Bull given his rise through the young driver program.

However, at the same time bigger names such as Kimi Raikkonen and briefly Fernando Alonso were mentioned among those being considered.

Ultimately it was the head of Red Bull's young driver program, Dr Helmut Marko, along with consultation with team bosses who decided that indeed the 24-year-old Australian was the right man for the job.

Some were surprised to see a driver, who was well known for his qualifying speed but perhaps less for his race pace, get the nod over a former world champion in Raikkonen.

Those worries, however, were quickly eased in Australia as the man from Perth put Red Bull's miserable pre-season behind them and qualified second on Saturday and remained there on Sunday.

Of course Ricciardo would lose that position after his car was deemed to have breached the fuel flow regulations, but the marker had been laid down as he comprehensively outshined Sebastian Vettel.

He has since furthered his reputation consistently beating his four-time champion team-mate in both qualifying and the race and has installed himself firmly as 'best of the rest' behind the dominant Mercedes.

After two consecutive podiums in Spain and Monaco, Ricciardo is looking to continue his strong form this weekend in Montreal but he insists whatever occurs going forward, he has shown he can hack it at the top of the pinnacle of world Motorsport.

"I think I've probably already done enough to show that I can do it," he told ESPN, "not specifically beating Seb, but being able to race at the front and drive for a top a team and deserve to be here."

The smiling Aussie also believes that despite his current advantage over Vettel, with the German only beating him once in six races, even if Sebastian should end 2014 ahead in the standings he will still feel he has met his target.

"It wouldn't be a bad thing definitely [to beat Vettel] and it would go a long way to giving me a lot of confidence," he agreed.

"Whatever happens in the championship, unless we win it, it's probably not going to matter. They [Red Bull] will more look at specific races and the bits I did well and the bits I didn't. But it would be a nice little pat on the back, I guess."

Despite his apparent superiority over Vettel, Ricciardo does insist he continues to learn from his team-mate as he continues to make a name for himself.

"It's not different to [beating] anyone else. Yes, it's important to try and learn from him - I'd be silly not to because he's obviously the best in the world - and for sure I can't be stubborn about it.

"But at the same time, I think I work well when I focus on myself and if I get distracted by what Seb's doing, or any other team-mate is doing, then it takes my mind off what I need to be doing.

"I have a lot of belief in my own abilities and if I do everything to my best then the results will come. At the moment 95% is being directed to myself and if I can learn a bit from Seb I do."

However, it is not just the young pretender trying to learn from the master as it were, after seeing his dominance end in 2014 and indeed endure one of his trickiest seasons yet in the sport, Vettel has turned to Ricciardo to see if he can find the key to turning his season around.

When asked if he does look at his team-mates data Vettel replied: "All the time, obviously he's been fairly quick, so you can imagine there have been corners where he's fairly quick!

"But it's good to see that and good to have a reference of what the car can do. If I look at myself it hasn't been the smoothest year but that's how it goes sometimes."

The world champion's struggles against Ricciardo come after several years of easily beating his previous partner Mark Webber.

The now Porsche WEC driver was well known for his skill in high-speed turns whereas Vettel had the advantage everywhere else, but comparing the two drivers the German says he sees little difference between himself and Ricciardo.

"Not really, no" he said. "You can't say in a certain type of corner he's gaining and losing in another, so not really.

Finally the German admitted the results Ricciardo is achieving are acting as motivation for him to recover from his disappointing start, one that sees him sixth in the championship nine points behind his team-mate who lies fourth.

"It is positive surprise," he said reflecting on Ricciardo's pace so far. "It's good to see he's getting on well with the team and doing a good job.

"I think we have similar preference in terms of the car in terms of set-up, there's not much difference we are running. It's encouraging to see him doing a good job. Obviously I've been struggling, he's doing a good job and it shows the potential of the car."

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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