Daniel Ricciardo Not Shocked Over Vettel Defection

The new face of Red Bull Racing, Daniel Ricciardo, says news of Sebastian Vettel’s expected defection to Ferrari didn’t come as much of a surprise.

The four-time world champion will likely land at Ferrari next season after confirming his decision to leave Red Bull following what has been a largely disastrous 2014 campaign. But the German’s decision doesn’t seem to have moved the needle much for rising star Ricciardo.

“I was pretty open to anything. I expected him to stay, I expected him to leave, so I wasn’t shocked when he announced he was leaving,” the Australian said.

“The way I see it, he has won four titles with Red Bull and obviously he has an opportunity elsewhere. Before he sees himself getting a bit too old for the sport, he probably wants another challenge.”

The diplomatic 25-year-old has said all the right things while thoroughly trumping Vettel all season long, including three grand prix wins. He is currently third (199 points) on the driver ladder behind Mercedes leaders Lewis Hamilton (291 points) and Nico Rosberg (274 points), ahead of the fifth placed Vettel on 143 points.

“He (Vettel) has been fair with me from day one, and after the third win was still very fair and very respectful with me,” Ricciardo said of Vettel’s attitude in the face of a massive fall from glory.

“As the season goes on he would love a win, so maybe inside there is a bit more frustration. I am sure deep down he wants to get a win this year. When you see a teammate win races and you’re not, naturally you are frustrated, but I wouldn’t say that has been displayed in meetings or anything I have seen.”

“To his credit he hasn’t taken anything out on me, or in front of the team. Maybe behind closed doors, but not visible to any of us, so I think he has controlled it well.”

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz confirmed the obvious last week when he said he expects Ricciardo to lead the team in 2015.

RBR will turn down an opportunity to secure a high-profile free agent driver and instead promote 19-year-old Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat.

“Yes, if we did not have a ‘team leader’ then the situation would look slightly different – but we knew that Daniel would fill these shoes, so things were much easier,” Mateschitz said.

“We always knew that he can fill anybody’s shoes – and that all our drivers are always treated equally. The only difference will be that between him and Daniil [Kvyat] next year, he has more experience.”

Photo: Andrew Hone/Getty Images