Hamilton’s sticking it to the doubters – Ricciardo

Jon Wilde
Portuguese GP podium 2021

Portuguese GP podium 2021

Daniel Ricciardo thinks Lewis Hamilton is winning over the doubters with the way he has responded to Max Verstappen’s title challenge.

It is hard to believe anyone questioned Hamilton given the way he eased to a record-equalling seventh World Championship last year but if they did, his performances so far in 2021 have shown the fire within him still burns as brightly as ever.

Red Bull’s car is closer to the Mercedes in terms of performance than it has been for several years, but still Hamilton’s ability as a racer has carried him to three victories out of four and a 14-point World Championship lead.

“You are starting to see people properly tipping their hat to Lewis,” said Ricciardo, who enjoyed his best result since joining McLaren by finishing sixth in the Spanish Grand Prix.

“He’s getting it dished back at him by Max, but is holding his ground and showing people who doubted him why he is what he is and why he is as good as he is.

“Who will get the best of it? You would always take experience so if it was down to the wire, Lewis has already shown some strong signs. But if there is a gap, Max goes for it. So you can flip a coin.”

Daniel Ricciardo Lewis Hamilton Lando Norris PA

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Ricciardo was speaking as his team revealed a one-off livery for the Monaco Grand Prix, incorporating sponsor Gulf Oil International’s retro blue and orange design.

The Woking-based squad are enjoying a strong campaign and sit in third place in the Constructors’ standings, five points ahead of Ferrari.

Lando Norris has already recorded one podium finish this year for McLaren whose CEO, Zak Brown, hopes Hamilton’s battle with Verstappen will lead to further chances for his team.

The two title rivals got within centimetres of a collision at the opening corner in Barcelona.

“Rivalries are great for the sport and hopefully at some stage that will create some opportunity for us, because it’s only a matter of time until they are both determined not to let up into Turn 1 and neither of them come out the other side,” said Brown.

“Lewis has had a pretty easy ride outside of 2016 with Nico Rosberg, so I think it’s a great rivalry.

“Max has gotten Lewis to step up – not that he needed it – but he is definitely on his A-game.

“It’s clear Lewis is a very smart driver and you can see him sitting there and waiting to strike. He’s not over-eager and that’s his experience coming through.”

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