Lewis Hamilton believes Daniel Ricciardo has made this season a three-way fight for the drivers’ championship but still sees Sebastian Vettel as the bigger threat.
Ricciardo won the Monaco Grand Prix to join Hamilton and Vettel on two wins apiece, but has suffered two retirements — one through a mechanical failure and one through a collision with teammate Max Verstappen — compared to none for the two four-time champions. That leaves Ricciardo 38 points adrift in the title race but championship leader Hamilton counts the Australian as a contender.
“It definitely is a three-way fight,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari I think still are the strongest. Their car was quick [in Monaco]; their car was working quite well through the whole season so far and they have dropped the ball a few times and we’ve capitalized on that so we are further ahead than we would be if everyone had done the same job, if you know what I mean. But I still feel that they’re the strongest and Sebastian has been doing the strongest job.
“But it is a three-way battle. I think Red Bull potentially have got an upgrade coming at some stage, engine-wise I think at the next race, so it will be interesting to see their performance and they will continue to get stronger through the year. So hopefully, while maybe the race was not the most exciting, it’s great for the fans to see this battle that we have.”
Hamilton says the additional threat is something he is relishing, with two rival teams capable of winning races this season.
“I’m telling you, we’re doing everything we can to win the race and then the Red Bulls win it and then the Ferraris win it and then we win. It’s great to have that. I personally love it and it’s challenging me more than I can express.
“It’s the biggest challenge that I’ve had with my boys, but I’m loving that challenge. I’m loving having to dig super deep in my technical knowledge and learning more about how I can communicate, how I can really pick the right setup and get it right for the weekend — all these different things. I’m enjoying that.”