Ricciardo admits beating Vettel “feels great”

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Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that it “feels great” to be beating his Red Bull teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as things stand in 2014.

The Australian driver was promoted to the seat at Red Bull for 2014 in place of his compatriot, Mark Webber, who retired at the end of last season.

Although he was known to have potential, very few expected him to make such a superb start to life with the world champion team.

In the first eleven races of the season, he has claimed two wins and currently ranks third in the drivers’ championship.

Perhaps even more surprising is that fact that he is 43 points ahead of Vettel, who has won the last four world titles.

“Of course I won’t lie: it feels great,” Ricciardo admitted to CNN. “You know he is an awesome benchmark to sort of judge myself on.

“And, you know, not only the rest of the guys in the field but him especially.

“To have shown really good speed against him not only in qualifying but in races as well has been encouraging. So yeah I am enjoying it.”

Vettel appears to have struggled to get to grips with the new cars for the 2014 season, but has shown signs of pace with two podium finishes. However, it is a far cry from his championship-winning exploits of 2013 when he won the final nine races of the season.

Ricciardo has quickly established himself to be a star in the sport, and has even surprised his boss, Christian Horner.

“Daniel has been a real surprise this year,” he said to Sky earlier this year. “We knew he was quick, we just didn’t realise how quick.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.