Daniel Ricciardo has called on his Red Bull team to assist him in his quest to catch the warring Mercedes.
The Australian, winner of three Grands Prix in 2014, lies third in the drivers' championship 50 points behind Lewis Hamilton and 72 behind leader Nico Rosberg, however, the next two circuits in Singapore and Japan could offer Red Bull a chance to battle with the currently dominant Mercedes.
On Sunday, at the Italian Grand Prix, Ricciardo recovered from a difficult qualifying and an even tougher start to finish fifth, the best result he said afterwards "he could achieve".
His race, however, was characterised by a number of spectacular overtakes on cars believed to be much more powerful than his own, around the most engine dependent track on the calendar.
Indeed, in his late fightback, only a handful of his moves required DRS as Ricciardo used his fresher tyres to get better traction out of the first chicane and produce the switchback pass on several drivers into the second chicane.
Edge over Vettel
Perhaps the most impressive part of his race in Italy was the fact he was able to overhaul team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
The four-time world champion seemed to have the edge over Ricciardo for much of the weekend, and after his poor start Daniel was left just outside the top 10 with Sebastian in fifth, but as the strategies played out in the race, Ricciardo was left the leading Red Bull once again as he pulled off an excellent move on the German towards the end.
It is this that now has Ricciardo calling on backing from his team-mate, something many thought would be impossible at the start of the season.
"My lead is around 60 points over Seb [Vettel]," he told reporters after the race.
"I would love to be quicker on merit and not need team orders, but the next couple of tracks are perfect for us so if we need to make any decisions if we can challenge Mercedes for the title then I am sure they will be made."
The reason why the next two races are crucial for Ricciardo, if he wants to claim the most unlikely of championships, is because the higher downforce requirements of the streets of Singapore and the turns of Suzuka take away the edge Mercedes have in engine power.
In many ways then, it is the last hope for Ricciardo if he wants to get involved in the tense battle between the two Mercedes drivers.
However, it appears his call may fall on deaf ears as team boss Christian Horner seemed to rule out the idea of Vettel helping Ricciardo.
"We'll let them race as we trust them," said Horner in quotes from the F1 website.
"They race each other hard but extremely fairly. The points difference between Daniel and the two Mercedes is enormous, so it does not make any sense for us to interfere."
It is interesting that Red Bull seem uninterested in the thought of helping Ricciardo, after all if the Mercedes drivers do start hitting problems again, and with double points in Abu Dhabi, he could still play a role in the championship battle.
The idea I have, however, is it may not be the best move for the team to ask the man who has brought so much success in recent years to play second fiddle to his team-mate.
There is enough speculation to suggest Vettel is considering his future and a potential offer from McLaren before Red Bull start giving him further reason to head towards the door. And while Ricciardo may mathematically have a chance it is still a very unlikely one.
Red Bull surprise
One thing that does continue to resonate from Ricciardo's impressive debut year at Red Bull, however, is how the 25-year-old continues to surpass his team's expectations.
Even after his recovery to finish fifth in Monza, Christian Horner admitted he was still surprised by what Ricciardo was doing.
"Some of Daniel's moves were spectacular, with huge precision - and Seb's defending of his position was also great racing," he said reflecting on his team's race.
"And if anybody ever had a question mark over Daniel's overtaking skills before he joined Red Bull Racing, that this was a fantastic demonstration today.
"I think that Daniel’s progress through the field was much quicker than we had expected and the degradation on Seb's car went up significantly towards the end."
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