Few people in the world of sport have a smile like Daniel Ricciardo, the young Aussie is rarely seen without those gleaming pearls lighting up even the darkest of places, yet next year he goes to a place few would dare venture.
Teaming up alongside Sebastian Vettel at the height of his F1 career, with people expecting you to compete with the German, must be one of the toughest tasks in F1 history. And as Ricciardo prepares to take on this challenge one of the sport’s nice guys will have to show his dark side.
Those of you who follow him on Twitter will know the 24-year-old enjoys the UFC and it’s exactly that kind of attitude he’ll need heading into battle against one of F1′s finest. While Ricciardo may not be expected to match Vettel to begin with, he has to convince himself he
can beat Vettel one-on-one if he is to stand a chance.
There is not doubting the man from Perth has already got that steely focus and drive, indeed he has come through the same system as Vettel, however it is that ability Sebastian has, to put the nice guy image to one side, and release the inner ‘demon’ as I put it that, accounts for his success.
It is why a lot of his rivals are unable to compete, let alone beat him. Their own egos have become too big and they expect success to simply come to them, as for Vettel he goes out and puts the absolute most into everything and that is why he wins.
What Ricciardo must be aware of however is doing what Sergio Perez has done at McLaren occasionally this year and push too hard.
In the cut throat world that is Formula 1 and in particular at Red Bull, there are plenty of other young drivers chomping at the bit. If Ricciardo starts making silly mistakes that is when his bosses Helmut Marko and Christian Horner will start considering whether the Australian is the right man for the job.
What he must do is set himself targets and ignore his team-mate, aiming for positions in qualifying, maybe top six to begin with, then top three before pushing for poles as the norm and in the races ensuring he at least finishes where he starts before moving up, claiming podiums and eventually wins.
If he does start beating Vettel every now and then great, but if he wants a more realistic goal just staying within half a second of the German wouldn’t be a bad one - heck most of the other top drivers can’t do that.
What is clear is that Ricciardo has a chance very few ever get, to race alongside one of F1′s greats at the peak of his career.
It also provides him with one of the greatest opportunities the sport can offer and if he is to be successful, as the Aussies (might) say, he sure as hell has to work his arse off to achieve it.
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