Lewis Hamilton believes it is unlikely that Daniel Ricciardo will join him at Mercedes next season and has suggested the Australian should stay at Red Bull if he feels valued.
Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of the season and is waiting to see how the power unit situation pans out at Red Bull, with the team looking likely to switch from Renault to Honda next year. When asked what it’s like to make such a move due to Ricciardo’s attachment to Red Bull, the defending champion suggested he doesn’t think a better opportunity will present itself.
“I think everyone for sure is going to be different so I can’t imagine what he’s mentally positioned himself as, but I think it’s a little bit different considering they’re still quite a strong team and they’ve got great potential moving forwards,” said Hamilton, who reached Formula 1 with the help of the McLaren young driver program before switching to Mercedes. “I think it’s his eighth season so he’s had a relatively long time also, yet he’s still quite young.
“All I said is he’s doing a solid, solid job. Ultimately he’s got a teammate that from what I hear is making a lot more money than him yet he’s more consistent, keeping the car together a lot more and more often than not pulling through. So It’s important in the team to always feel you’re valued or at your worth and your contribution to it.
“I would imagine his future is there, but he’s one of the top drivers so I’m sure there will be options for him. Obviously in the top areas there’s only Ferrari and Mercedes he could ever consider, but currently here that’s unlikely, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
“And then if you look at Ferrari I imagine Kimi [Raikkonen]’s going to want to continue. I mean, why not? He’s driving really, really well this year and he doesn’t seem to be aging so I think he will go a little bit longer.”
With Ricciardo joining Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at two race wins this year with his Monaco victory, the championship leader is not ruling out a three-way title battle this season.
“At the moment he is pretty much the lead driver in that team so it’s not a bad place to be. If at some stage Red Bull get an engine they’re going to be even closer in the mix with us, and there is still a long, long way to go [this year] obviously. Who knows? They could win many more races.
“So I think he’s just got to keep his head down, keep doing what he’s doing, but he should definitely have a contract on his table and he should have his options ready. I was talking to him and I don’t know if he has all his options already lined out for him and I was like, ‘Get them to your manager dude! Let me know if you want me to do it!’”