Ricciardo’s pace is a shock to Horner

Daniel Ricciardo was impressive again in Monaco 491654089
Daniel Ricciardo was impressive again in Monaco 491654089
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While Sebastian Vettel’s season goes from bad to worse (see back page), team-mate Daniel Ricciardo is going from strength to strength at Red Bull Racing.

The 24-year-old Australian is not only proving to the paddock that he is more than capable of being given a top seat in the sport, but is also comprehensively out-performing his four-time world championship winning team-mate.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates his third place during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Daniel Ricciardo 491654465

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates his third place during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Daniel Ricciardo 491654465

Ricciardo’s third place finish at Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix is the third time he has stood on the podium this season - though his second place in the Australian Grand Prix was later chalked off. Vettel meanwhile has been on the podium just once this season.

And it could have been even better for Ricciardo on Sunday if the streets of Monte Carlo offered any chance of an overtaking opportunity as he gobbled up the gap between himself and the ailing Lewis Hamilton, who was struggling with his vision in the latter stages.

Afterwards, Ricciardo said: “The race really came to life towards the end.

“It started off not so well and it’s a really short run to Turn 1, so that was frustrating. Then we got Seb due to his reliability and Kimi had a puncture and we sort of got back to where we were hoping to be.

“After the re-start we were just saving the tyres to the point that we could get to the end and then, with 20 laps to go, I thought they would be okay so I pushed.

“It was the first time in the whole race that I felt like I was really driving the car and we caught Lewis.

“It was fun but I couldn’t get him, so I have to say the race finished better than it started.”

Ricciardo’s seamless transition from Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso to the main team in Tilbrook has raised more than a few eyebrows this season, taking like a duck to water to the sharper end of the grid.

And Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted even he was shocked by quite how quick he is.

“Daniel has been a real surprise this year,” he said.

“We knew he was quick - we just didn’t realise how quick. And he is so cool as well, he is quick, he’s good looking, he has got everything going for him.”

While racing alongside Mark Webber, Vettel was used to looking down the timesheets in order to find his team-mate, particularly in qualifying.

But Ricciardo has out-qualified the world champion 5-1 in the opening six rounds of the 2014 season, and hasn’t finished behind the German since the Malaysian Grand Prix at the beginning of April.

And his performances have seen him climb to fourth in the championship standings with 54 points, while Vettel sits sixth, nine points adrift of his team-mate.