Daniel Ricciardo is enjoying the moment as he shows a clean pair of heels to F1's reigning quadruple world champion.
Early in 2014, Red Bull's fresh-faced newcomer Ricciardo settled in quickly and stunned the F1 world by generally outshining Vettel, the winner of the last four world titles and the last nine grands prix of 2013 on the trot.
Vettel performed better with a new chassis in Spain, amid reports the team had discovered the German's original RB10 was 'distorted'.
Chief engineer Paul Monaghan, however, played down those reports.
"No one error can be considered an entire explanation and requires further work to that completed prior to and within the Spanish GP," Reuters quotes him as saying.
Whatever the explanation, it is widely accepted that Ricciardo has been the more impressive Red Bull driver so far this year -- a fact not lost on the always-grinning 24-year-old.
"It's a good feeling to be making Sebastian work for his money," Ricciardo joked to Germany's Sport Bild.
Mere podiums, however, are not the only meal on the menu for the Perth-born driver.
"I'm hungrier than ever for wins, and I can eat a lot!" he laughed.
But he is also keen to play down any talk of tension between himself - the easy-going newcomer - and Vettel, the beleaguered world champion.
"We get on really well, for teammates," said Ricciardo. "We often have breakfast together, and I would say that's unusual for teammates.
"At the moment it's going well for me, but I also know that it won't be long before Seb is getting everything out of his car. He hasn't forgotten how to drive!"
Reporters, however, made a fuss about Vettel being outpaced by female driver Susie Wolff on day two of the Barcelona test on Wednesday.
"Time for me to quit, then?" Vettel hit back with a wry smile.
In fact, even F1 history is still on Vettel's side.
In 1987, it was the eighth race before Nelson Piquet won his first grand prix of the season, but he went on to seal his third world championship.
However, in a statistic more sure to please Lewis Hamilton, an F1 driver has never won four races in a row and not gone on to be that year's champion.
Megaphone exhaust 'didn't work - Rosberg
May 15 (GMM) F1's supposed 'sound problem' is going back to the drawing board, following the track debut of the Mercedes 'megaphone'.
At the post-Spanish grand prix test in Barcelona on Wednesday, the exhaust of Nico Rosberg's dominant W05 car was fitted with the trumpet-shaped attachment designed to turn up the volume of this year's new turbo V6 engines.
"It wasn't a great solution," Rosberg said afterwards in a video posted on Instagram.
The 'trumpet', which can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAuupY65NcQ, was later removed from the silver car.
"It just didn't work," Rosberg explained. "It didn't make it much louder. So we'll just have to look for another solution."
It is interesting that, after all the early-season complaints about the milder engine note of 2014, fans generally rebuked the look and sound of the 'trumpet'.
One F1 fan told BBC correspondent Andrew Benson: "The notion of a special device attached to the cars purely to make more noise is so ridiculous it's offensive."
"It's an interesting moment in time for formula one," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said last weekend.
"Traditionally you would have said that formula one needs to be loud to be spectacular. Maybe now that's changing."
FIA president Jean Todt said he agreed to look into noise solutions - it was the governing body that sanctioned Mercedes' running of the megaphone this week - following the widespread earlier complaints.
"It is a question of taste," the Frenchman told the Telegraph last week.
"I don't have any problem with the noise, but I need to take it into account if a lot of people say they want more noise.
"But believe me, in a few months time, nobody will speak any more about the noise," Todt added.
A survey conducted by the German news agency SID found that 36 per cent of F1 fans declare that F1 is "less attractive" in 2014, while 45 per cent are just as interested in the pinnacle of motor sport as before.
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