Daniel Ricciardo says former Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel needed to head for pastures new after his low-key 2014 season.
Having been comprehensively outshone by the Australian last year, the four-time world champion joined a Ferrari team that was also coming off a winless campaign. It did not take long for the new partnership to deliver though, with Vettel ending his and Maranello’s drought as early as round two in Malaysia.
The German followed it up with another two victories, while also amassing 10 podium finishes to keep both Mercedes drivers honest in the championship fight.
“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.
“Mercedes are still the team to beat [in 2016], I'm sure of that. 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.”
After his 2014 breakthrough season, Ricciardo approached the new season with renewed ambitions. But repeating a similar feat proved to tall an order, as Red Bull endured its first winless season since 2008.
“I look back [on 2015] with a smile. Sure it had some frustrations but there were still some positives. I feel I learned a lot. I'm still young, I feel I still have a lot to learn and achieve in the sport. Some of the harder times, I took a lot out of.
“Hopefully we can find a few more occassions to battle [at the front]. We can definitely make progress, and I definitely enjoy fighting at the front.”
Ricciardo eventually finished eighth in the Drivers’ standings with two podiums and three fastest laps to his name, though his younger team-mate Daniil Kvyat managed to outscore him by three points.
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