SOCHI, Russia — Daniel Ricciardo has suggested the pressure of trying to win a championship for Ferrari might have contributed to former teammate Sebastian Vettel’s season-altering mistakes this year.
Numerous errors from Vettel have cost him significantly in the championship — he is 40 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the title race but has dropped almost double that same amount over the course of the season. It is a shadow of the Vettel who dominated the early 2010s, winning four straight championships for Red Bull which included a record-breaking 2013 campaign.
Ricciardo famously partnered and out-performed Vettel in 2014, one of the factors which prompted his move to Ferrari. Although Ricciardo was quick to point out he’s yet to experience the intensity of a championship fight he thought Vettel would have dealt with this season better.
“It’s hard for me to really comment because I have won races and I’ve dealt with some pressures, but I’ve never dealt with the real pressure of fighting for a title and going head-to-head,” Ricciardo said. “Yes, I believe I would be able to cope with that pressure, but until I’m in that position I can’t say yeah, he’s not doing the right thing or whatever. He has won titles before so maybe that’s a little bit of the surprise, you think he’s been here and should be used to it.”
Ricciardo believes the environment at and expectations around Ferrari might be proving the difference for Vettel, who won all of his championships with the Red Bull programme which picked him up at an early age.
“Ferrari is maybe a different organization than Red Bull and there’s different weights and pressures that come with Ferrari — again, I’m not sure, I’m speculating. But maybe these are things are adding more weight on the shoulders. We are all human.
“Lewis this weekend might crash in qualifying and then he has a terrible weekend. I don’t know, things happen. Comparing like Seb and Lewis, for sure Lewis has been the kind of more solid guy. You know, more consistent this year. Seb’s been able to produce some big races and performances but it has had more ups and downs.”