Chinese GP: Daniel Ricciardo beating me fair and square - Vettel

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Highlights: Hamilton storms to China pole

World champion Sebastian Vettel admits he is being beaten "fair and square" by his new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo so far this year.

The Australian has out-qualified the four-time champion three times in four races since replacing compatriot Mark Webber.

Vettel said: "There's nothing between the cars so if he beats me he beats me fair and square. That's not to my liking. I know I have to do a little bit better."

Vettel said he was struggling to come to terms with the 2014 Red Bull following this year's extensive rule changes.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany bows in front of his car as he celebrates after winning the Formula One Indian Grand Prix 2013 at the Buddh International circuit in Greater Noida.
Sebastian Vettel enjoyed success during the previous generation of F1 cars, which used exhaust gases to increase rear grip

Vettel said: "This year is very, very different, the cars are different, you cannot compare last year to this year.

"But nevertheless Daniel is doing a very good job. He has not had one good weekend, he has had good weekends. So far he seems to be able to get the maximum out of the car.

"On my side, maybe I am struggling a bit more.

"Maybe the car is not the way I like 100% but I am trying to work on that and for now if the result is like this I have to accept it."

The 26-year-old German won his four world championships with a car that benefited from what were known as exhaust-blown rear aerodynamics, where exhausts gases were used to increase rear grip.

Red Bull were able to exploit this technology better than any other team and Vettel adapted his driving style to it better than Webber.

But as part of a wide-ranging package of new rules this season, this feature of the cars has been removed.

Vettel retired from the first race of the season in Australia, where Ricciardo finished second only to be disqualified after his car was found to have used too much fuel.

He was close behind Vettel in Malaysia before he himself retired and then beat him in Bahrain, where Ricciardo was fourth and Vettel sixth.

Only in Malaysia has Vettel out-qualified his team-mate.

Ricciardo said it was a "good day".

Vettel & Ricciardo on China

"That was very pleasing to do it at the end," he said.

"To be honest, I struggled a bit throughout the session, at least personally I didn't feel like I was getting on top of the conditions, but then the last set of intermediate [tyres] right at the end of Q3 we managed to get a bit more out of it and I put a good lap together.

"So pretty pleased to be on the front row."

Both Red Bull drivers out-qualified Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who leads the championship. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was on pole for the third time in four races.

Ricciardo said Red Bull had "a good chance to at least stay up the pointy end" in Sunday's race, which is expected to be dry after a wet qualifying.

But Vettel said they were unlikely to be able to beat the Mercedes drivers, who have a significant power advantage over the Renault-engined Red Bulls.

"I would love some rain," Vettel said. "In wet conditions maybe the power is not that decisive. But all in all I think we have a strong package.

"Maybe we have a little advantage on tyre life, we have to wait and see.

"Historically, Mercedes has been the strongest car also around this track in dry conditions, looking after the fronts, so we will see where are.

"It would be a welcome surprise if we are better than them, but there is always the chance anything can happen so we need to be doing the best to take the advantage if there is one."

Chinese Grand prix qualifying results

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