Defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has been looking for guidance from an unlikely source: team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The German revealed ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix that he’s been studying the young Australian’s data in the hope of understanding the pair’s contrasting results.
Ricciardo has outperformed Vettel in all but one race this season and sits nine points ahead of him in fourth on the drivers’ standings.
While admitting he compared overlays “all the time”, the four-time title-winner said he couldn’t see a clear difference – unlike the latter stages of his partnership with Mark Webber.
“You can’t say in a certain type of corner he’s gaining and losing in another,” Vettel said.
“With Mark, I think it’s fair to say he was very, very good in high-speed corners – and show me the limits sometimes – but it’s fairly even, let’s say, around the lap with Daniel.
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“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 26-year-old said Ricciardo’s form, including back-to-back podiums in Spain and Monaco, was a “positive surprise” and provided some motivation heading into the remaining 13 races.
“It’s good to see he’s getting on well with the team and doing a good job,” he added.
“I think we have similar preference in terms of the car in terms of set-up, there’s not much difference.
“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.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the team had taken a lot of confidence out of Ricciardo’s pace in Monaco last round.
Renault is also set to introduce a number of mechanical updates to its engines this weekend, which it hopes will improve reliability and performance.
But Ricciardo concedes his RB10 will struggle to get near the Merecedes’ of championship leaders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the high-speed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“Not to be negative or pessimistic, we know the straights are a bit more of a factor here,” the 24-year-old said.
“In saying that, it’s still a street circuit, still definitely parts of the track where you can let a bit more hang out.”
Ricciardo has meanwhile been enjoying watching the on- and off-track fireworks between Hamilton and Rosberg, something that could work in his favour.
“Apparently it’s been cleared, but it makes me a bit more excited to know if they go for a lunge on one another then it might be interesting,” he added.