Sebastian Vettel has played down the significance of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull performances believing comparing the two drivers in 2014 is "unfair".
The German has largely struggled to match his new team-mate throughout the season as Ricciardo has been the only non-Mercedes driver to win this year and currently lies third in the Drivers' championship.
However, for Vettel, after four ultra-successful years, the reliability issues, that often blighted former team-mate Mark Webber, have largely affected his side of the garage.
Rough with the smooth
Certainly the four-time consecutive world champion has seen the high of winning nine straight races at the end of 2013 come crashing down to perhaps the lowest part of his F1 career as he lies in sixth place 43 points behind his Red Bull team-mate.
Yet, while Vettel admitted that in Formula 1 the lows are just as frustrating as the highs are elating, he also seemed to suggest that maybe Ricciardo's achievements are marred by his own problems.
"First of all, I won't argue that he (Ricciardo) is doing a good job," Vettel told reporters at Spa.
"On my side, I think I have plenty of qualifying sessions where we had some sort of trouble. I don't remember all of them, in terms of what the nature was, but we lost out many times because of that and in the races as well.
"I'm not interested in comparing too much because, on my side, it's not fair to compare."
Just blame the car?
Certainly looking at the record of the two Red Bull drivers it is true that Vettel has endured more problems.
Sebastian has had three retirements in 2014 compared to Ricciardo's one, excluding his disqualification from Australia, and in qualifying too Vettel has failed to make the top 10 on four separate occasions while only a ten-place grid drop in Bahrain forced Ricciardo to start 13th in Bahrain.
But right from the first weekend in Australia, where Ricciardo claimed second on the grid in the wet conditions, he has appeared more in sync with the RB10 and the different characteristics of the 2014 cars.
A man we knew as a good qualifier, the 25-year-old has achieved a top four grid slot of six races if you include his provisional third before the penalty in Bahrain.
In the races too he has proven his worth overtaking Vettel wheel-to-wheel at three of the first four Grands Prix and then producing stunning moves late on to win his two races in Canada and Hungary.
Even in Germany, where Ricciardo was only sixth, that in itself was an excellent result after dropping down the order at the start, enjoying a great battle with Fernando Alonso towards the end of the race.
On the contrary only once have we really seen the Sebastian Vettel that was held in such high regard last year.
In Malaysia, the German was clearly best of the rest taking a second place grid slot himself in the wet qualifying at Sepang, then in the race only the dominant Mercedes were able to beat him as he came home in third.
But apart from that, and a great recovery from 15th to fourth in Spain, Vettel has appeared mortal compared to the mythical displays he put in towards the end of the year.
Only twice has he started in the top 10 and made progress in the race and only then the two places he gained in Germany could be attributed to the first corner crash between Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Massa.
Hard to take
As a result, while Vettel may point to his problems, Ricciardo too hasn't had 11 trouble-free races, indeed he was still pointless after the opening two rounds.
It has seemed instead Ricciardo has just been the hungrier of the two Red Bull drivers, like a young lion joining a new pack. While Vettel might say its "not fair" to compare himself and the so-called 'Honey Badger' doing so reveals that one man took his opportunities while the other one did not and that for a man fresh from winning four straight titles, must be very hard to take.
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