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.”