Daniel Ricciardo: It’s a responsibility to carry out team orders

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The matter of team orders has flared up in the Red Bull camp recently with four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel having been asked to move over for Daniel Ricciardo in the last two Grand Prix.

But Vettel touched off a bit of controversy when he replied “tough luck” to that order during the Chinese Grand Prix before letting Ricciardo go by a couple of laps later.

Vettel later said that he allowed Ricciardo to pass him once he realized they were on different tire strategies, and Ricciardo did his best to downplay suggestions of problems between him and Vettel.

However, Ricciardo has told The West Australian newspaper that since such situations are talked about in pre-race team meetings, he feels that he has to accept team orders.

“It is our responsibility to obey it, unless it’s completely out of order and then we can obviously try and put up a fight and give our reasons,” he told the paper. “But the team are doing all the calculations on pit wall during the race and you have to respect what they’re saying.

“It’s not always nice if you are being told to move over. It’s not nice being that slower car, it’s frustrating.”

While Vettel remains ahead of Ricciardo in the driver’s championship, the latter’s performance has caused some to wonder if the champ’s starting to lose his edge.

In the first four event, Ricciardo’s outqualified Vettel, 3-1, and has out-pointed him in the last two races – finishing fourth at both Bahrain and Shanghai against Vettel’s results of sixth and fifth.

For his part, Ricciardo is hopeful that should this trend continue, any possible tension will not reach an unhealthy level and that he shall get a “fair fight” with the German.

“I want to race the best version of Seb and he wants to race the best version of me,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think we’ll both respect whoever’s done a better job.

“Deep, deep down none of us like losing. If Seb’s done a better job this year, I won’t like it, but I’ll definitely respect him for it and give him the credit he deserves.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.