After clinching his fourth Drivers’ Championship this season, Lewis Hamilton drew level on titles with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. However, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo thinks Hamilton’s ability behind the wheel isn’t something to boast about. He has claimed the 32-year old’s success is primarily down to the sheer power the Mercedes car every season.
Ricciardo said, “Lewis has won three of the last four championships but if he was in a midfield team he wouldn’t have three of the last four championships. The car is a big part of it, but you need to be a good driver to get the equipment to the top. You need both. It’s still a bit more dominant with the car than the driver, I’d say maybe 75 per cent to 25 per cent.”
The Australian admitted that he wishes to see that performance ratio reduced. That will put more emphasis on the abilities of the driver. He added, “A 50/50 would be something more realistic in the near future and hopefully that’s the case. Even from Lewis to the guy that’s coming last, maybe the lap time says three seconds but the driver is maximum one second. We are all a lot closer than that and it would be great if we could all stay within one second with the equipment.Then the racing would be pretty fun.”
Ricciardo finished in fifth spot in the 2017 Drivers’ standings, 163 points adrift of World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Lewis identified himself, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen as the four strongest drivers in F1 earlier this week.
But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists that Ricciardo is a dark horse. Horner said, “Lewis would be very foolish to underestimate Daniel. He’s a phenomenal driver, he’s arguably the best overtaker in the business. Daniel’s driven some great races this year and some great races in his time at Red Bull. He’s absolutely ready for a championship challenge if we can provide him with the tools to do the job.”
The ‘Honey Badger’ took one race victory in 2017, but his campaign was often undermined by the car’s unreliability. Red Bull have reportedly fast-tracked development of their RB14 in a bid to start next year on the front foot. Horner expects his drivers to be right in the mix. He added, “I’m really excited that we’ve got the strongest driver pairing in Formula 1. Max and Daniel, they push each other to such high limits and that’s tremendously exciting for us”. Heading into the 2018 season, Ricciardo thinks that he will be right up there battling for the title.