Sebastian Vettel's run of 'bad luck' will end predicts Red Bull's Christian Horner
But team boss says Ricciardo "riding the crest of a confidence wave"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 01/08/14 2:30pm
Christian Horner believes ‘bad luck’ has played a key role in Sebastian Vettel’s results relative to Daniel Ricciardo so far in 2014 and has backed the World Champion to start turning his fortunes around after the summer break.
While Vettel, F1’s reigning four-time title winner, has yet to win in F1’s new turbo era and beared the brunt of Red Bull's unreliability, new team-mate Ricciardo claimed his second dramatic and unexpected victory in the space of the last five races in Hungary on Sunday.
Despite qualifying on the front-row alongside championship leader Nico Rosberg, Vettel finished only seventh at the Hungaroring after dropping down the order during the first Safety Car phase and then when he spun wildly across the pitstraight after a mistake at the final corner while under pressure from Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull pair’s latest contrasting results mean that, against all-pre expectations, Ricciardo now leads Vettel by three places and 43 points in the Drivers’ Championship as F1 breaks for the summer. But Horner, the World Champions’ Team Principal, is still expecting to see the best of the German before 2014 is out.
“He deserves a well-earned break, take a bit of time out, and he’ll come back strong,” Horner said. “Unfortunately up until these issues, this weekend had been a very strong weekend for him. Friday he was quick and Saturday he was fantastic in qualifying – he was just unlucky in the race.
“That’s the way his luck’s gone the first half of the year but it can change very quickly.”
Up until the lap-nine Safety Car for Marcus Ericsson’s heavy crash, Vettel had been challenging Valtteri Bottas for second place, but was then among the drivers whose track position at the time of the pace car’s deployment meant he had to complete an additional lap before stopping for tyres.
“Nothing really went his way apart from a bit of luck not hitting the wall very hard,” Horner admitted in reference to Vettel’s later spin towards the pitwall. “Again unlucky at the first Safety Car, then he had a bit of luck not to end up in the wall, but it flat-spotted the tyres and so we had to pit. Then what are your options?
“We went on the prime tyre to the end of the race and he did a great job in making the tyre go the distance and holding Bottas, who was about three seconds a lap quicker than him. Over the last five laps he made the Red Bull as wide as I’ve ever seen it.”
Nonetheless, down on luck the World Champion may be, but the sustained brilliance being displayed by Ricciardo in the otther RB10 continues to earn the 25-year-old widespread plaudits - including from his team boss.
"The guy is riding the crest of a confidence wave at the moment," Horner said.
"He’s driving the car with such ease at the moment and things are falling right for him as well. Being able to get in at the right time for that first stop was a critical element of the race. We then had a problem on one of the cylinders on the engine in the penultimate stint, but the Renault guys were able to find a way around it to disable the sensor.
"Then his passing moves in the last five laps just topped a fantastic race."