David Coulthard believes Daniel Ricciardo won't have much to lose during his first season at Red Bull, saying it will be up to Sebastian Vettel to make sure he doesn't get beaten by his new team-mate.
The 24-year-old Ricciardo left Toro Rosso for Champions Red Bull at the end of last year and he is in for the biggest test of his young Formula One career as he will be up against four-time World Champion Vettel.
However, former Red Bull driver Coulthard believes the Australian finds himself in a great position as Vettel stands to lose more if he gets upstaged by Ricciardo.
"He's had a great rise up to the point of driving for the World Championship-winning team," Coulthard told AAP.
"It's better to be up against the best guy statistically over the past four years than to be in the mid-grid beating your team-mate, because ultimately this is about trying to win grands prix. He's got a much better chance of doing that with Red Bull Racing than he was going to have with Toro Rosso.
"The expectation will be that Sebastian, as a four-time World Champion, will be the team leader, so it's all there for Daniel to play for.
"If he matches him, people will say 'well, he's really got some pace'; if he beats him, then people are going to really sit up and take notice. So I think the pressure is off Daniel in many respects.
"When I made my debut as a young driver for Williams, I didn't feel any pressure - all I saw was opportunity. I think that's the benefit of youth - you just go for it and then think about the consequences afterwards."
Ricciardo is known as one of the friendliest drivers in the paddock and he always makes time to have a chat with journalists, but Coulthard warns that he will probably have to change a few things if he is to keep up with the pressure of driving for one of the top teams.
"I think it's inevitable that there'll be changes in the way he engages with the public and media and the team as he develops," he said.
"It's impossible in life not to change, and if you're not changing, you're not getting experience and being able to make better decisions.
"There's going to be a lot more demands on his time, especially making his season debut in Melbourne. He's an approachable, smiley character, and if he hasn't done so already, I think he'll really connect with the Australian people.
"But everyone has to remember that he's there to do a job. If he's outside signing thousands of autographs and Vettel's hidden away in the back of his engineering debrief looking at ways to make the car go faster, you can see which one is going to have the better opportunity."
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