Ricciardo: Vettel found new lease on life at Ferrari

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Daniel Ricciardo has named former Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel as one of the stand-out drivers of the 2015 Formula 1 season, saying that the German found a new lease on life after moving to Ferrari.

Ricciardo took the F1 paddock by surprise when he managed to beat four-time world champion Vettel during their only season together at Red Bull in 2014, claiming three race wins en route to P3 in the drivers’ championship.

Vettel left for Ferrari at the end of the year, and enjoyed a successful first season with the Italian marque in 2015, taking three wins and ending the team’s win drought that dated back to May 2013.

Vettel’s season removed some doubts about his ability – including his own – and Ricciardo believes that the switch to Ferrari gave the German renewed energy in racing.

“Seb picked himself up from, by his standards, not a great 2014,” Ricciardo told the official F1 website.

“He found a new lease of energy and life at Ferrari, and ran with that opportunity.”

Ricciardo still sees world champions Mercedes as the team to beat heading into 2016, but thinks Ferrari may be in a better position to battle at the front next year.

“Mercedes are still the team to beat, I’m sure of that,” Ricciardo said.

“Ferrari are interesting – they made a big step this year, and if they make another step like that they’ll be in good shape to fight with Mercedes.”