Chinese GP: Daniel Ricciardo plays down Vettel dispute

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo moved to defuse a potential dispute with team-mate Sebastian Vettel over team orders at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Vettel initially refused to accede to a demand to let Ricciardo through because he was faster, although says he did subsequently move over.

"I don't want to start any conflicts or anything," said Ricciardo, who joined the team this year.

"At the end of the day we eventually got past and I was able to do my race."

Vettel explains 'tough luck' response

Ricciardo ended the race in fourth and Vettel in fifth, around 20 seconds behind his team-mate.

It is the second race in a succession in which Vettel, who has won the last four world titles with Red Bull, has received an order to move over for Ricciardo.

The issue is a sensitive one at the team, who had a series of team orders rows between Vettel and former team-mate Mark Webber in the last four years.

Vettel caused controversy last season by ignoring an order not to overtake Webber in last year's Malaysian Grand Prix. He initially apologised and then later said he would do the same again.

In China on Sunday, Vettel queried the order, asking what type of tyres Ricciardo was on. When he was told the two drivers were on the same tyres but the Australian's were fresher, Vettel replied: "Tough luck."

Ricciardo did get by two laps later. Vettel said this was a result of him moving over once he had been told the plan was for him to do one more pit stop.

"I did move over," Vettel said. "Initially I didn't understand because we were on the same tyres, unlike Bahrain [the last race].

"That's why I double-checked, but when I got the call that at that stage Daniel was on a different strategy, I moved over."

In the end, Vettel did do the same two-stop strategy as Ricciardo.

Team boss Christian Horner said: "He was obviously understanding they were on the same tyres and strategy and he wanted to race.

"His tyres were quite a bit older, he was going through the tyre quicker and it looked like a three-stop."

Vettel v Ricciardo at Red Bull

Vettel Ricciardo

Australia

Retired

DSQ

Malaysia

3rd

Retired

Bahrain

6th

4th

China

5th

4th

Total Points

33

24

Asked whether Vettel should not have simply obeyed without disputing the team's request, Horner said: "He's a race driver. We employ these guys because they have that fighting spirit.

"He hasn't won four world championships by not being a racer. Of course he's going to question it to understand but as soon as he understood it, bang, he moved over.

"For any driver, they don't like that call. But he's absolutely abided by it. He's a team player at the end of the day."

Vettel said he was struggling to drive the car as well as Ricciardo.

"I don't think there was a problem with the car," he said. "At the moment he just seems to get more out of the car than I do.

F1: When team-mates fall out

"There are a lot of things I don't really like but we have the same car so the gap is too big to be something small in terms of set-up. We take one step forwards, one step back. But hopefully in the next couple of races more steps in the right direction."