Sebastian Vettel, the perennial Batman in the Red Bull ranks, now sports the garish yellow, green and red combo reserved for the sidekick of the two-man team, for there is a new Caped Crusader in town.
Australian upstart Daniel Ricciardo has sprung from the abyss to usurp Formula One’s German overlord as the Austrian faction’s poster boy and he will ensure the reigning Drivers champion remains confined to the shadows in Italy.
A very fair 9/20 says the Perth speedster gets the better of Vettel in the Autodromo Nazionale, with a price of 13/10 saying the latter reclaims the limelight.
Despite the four-time kingpin claiming the chequered flag on three of his last five trips around the ‘Cathedral of Speed’, only the reckless will be opposing Ricciardo in this head-to-head.
The Aussie racer recorded his finest finish of 2013 in the land of his forefathers when revving the hand-me-down engines of the Torro Rosso B team and returns looking to win his third Grand Prix in succession.
Bookending the mid-season hiatus with champagne showers in Hungary and Belgium, Ricciardo can claim his maiden hat-trick in the sport here, while Vettel, incomprehensibly, seeks his first win of the campaign.
A regular recipient of post-race champagne showers, the German has made a paltry two podiums in 2014 and even then those finishes were only good enough to grant him the bronze medal.
In stark contrast, Ricciardo has been spraying the Dom Perignon in the aftermath of six of his last eight races, helping him to record greater finishes than those mustered by Vettel in nine of their previous ten run outs.
Belgium was a stomping ground the outbound champ enjoyed unrivalled dominance in the three seasons that preceded this one, winning two and claiming second in the other, but he could only manage a fifth in this term’s Spa skirmish.
If he was going to flip the formbook anywhere, it would’ve been in Belgium, so side with on-song Ricciardo to claim the laurels this weekend.