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Red Bull: Ricciardo guaranteed equal treatment
Wednesday 04th September 2013, 18:23 by Ryan Wood
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Daniel Ricciardo is guaranteed the same opportunities as his soon-to-be team-mate Sebastian Vettel, when the Australian partners him at Red Bull next year.
Many fans have questioned whether Mark Webber enjoys the same treatment, and some have attributed his retirement to the fact that he isn't, but team principal Christian Horner is adamant he does and Ricciardo will get the same.
"The decision to take a junior driver doesn't mean anything changes," Horner said. "Both drivers will get the same opportunity and the same equipment."
However he did admit that one may be favoured if they emerge as a clear favourite for the title in any given season.
"Inevitably there will be a natural pecking order determined by the driver who is in front on track. Sebastian has won a lot of races and is a multiple world champion, so with that comes a lot of expectation. But the reality is that both drivers, as has always been the case, will get identical opportunity and equipment."
The 24-year-old has been signed on a three-year contract. Horner described him as a "medium to long-term" prospect and expects him to make mistakes next year, but says those must be ironed out before he can challenge Vettel.
"My expectations of Daniel next season are that he will continue to improve. He's a young driver, he's inevitably going to make a few mistakes early on but he will learn from them and improve. This is very much a medium and long-term view that we are taking in developing him. Of the current crop of youngsters he is genuinely an exciting prospect," he added.
"It's a massively tall order [to match Vettel]; what he has achieved is unique. The win rate he has had, the amount of pole positions, wins and fastest laps is phenomenal for someone just 26. For Daniel to achieve anywhere near that is a massive order.
"I think he has all the attributes to be a very competitive grand prix driver, but only time will tell how good he can be. We believe he is good and deserves this chance. He has achieved it on merit."
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