Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he needs 'to do a little bit better'
World Champion beaten "fair and square" by new team-mate Ricciardo
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 20/04/14 6:28am
The World Champion lines up third on the grid for Sunday's race in Shanghai, one place behind Ricciardo who, in turn, starts alongside polesitter Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton produced a virtuoso display in wet conditions to set a time over half a second faster than Ricciardo's best. Yet the Australian's advantage over Vettel was almost as big, with Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert for one reckoning the German has been "rattled" by the arrival of Mark Webber's pacey replacement.
And Vettel, who won nine races in a row last year on his way to a fourth straight title, admitted afterwards that he is "struggling a little bit" adapting to Red Bull's RB10.
"I think this year is very, very different; the cars are very different, so I don't think you can compare last year to this year first of all. But nevertheless I think Daniel is doing a very good job," said Vettel, who has now been outqualified three times in four races by Ricciardo this season.
"He has not just had one good weekend; he's had good weekends and so far he's been able to get the maximum out of the car.
"On my side, maybe I'm struggling a little bit more but at the end of the day we have the same car. There's nothing between the cars so if he manages to beat me then he beat me on the circuit fair and square.
"Of course, that's not to my liking but equally I know that I have to do a little bit better."
Ricciardo got the better of Vettel in the Bahrain GP two weeks ago and has targeted a podium finish this time around - the FIA having earlier this week thrown out Red Bull's appeal against his disqualification from second place in his home race last month.
However, with the rain likely to stay away on race day, both drivers acknowledged that Mercedes - whose cars gain 0.7s in lap time on the Shanghai International Circuit's long back straight alone, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner - start as favourites once again.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow. If it's dry, I think we can race up the front; I'll be ducking my head down the straight like in a go-kart but we'll hopefully hold on and fight for at least a podium," said Ricciardo.
For his part, Vettel joked that Red Bull can only beat Mercedes "if we put two chicanes on all the straights".