Daniel Ricciardo says Lewis Hamilton’s current superiority in Formula 1 is “remarkable” and warrants a huge amount of respect.

Barring a narrow title defeat to former teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016, Hamilton has dominated F1’s V6 hybrid era by claiming five of the six world championships since 2014.

In that time, the six-time world champion has racked up over half of the wins on offer, recording 62 victories from 121 races. Hamilton will have the chance to equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles when the delayed 2020 season gets underway. 

In an interview with Autocar, seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo said he believes he could give Hamilton “a run” if they were in the same machinery.

“There are rarely unicorns in sport,” Ricciardo said. “There’s always a small handful of people who have the talent to win on any given day, and our sport is no different.

“I believe there’s a group of us at the top tier, and I believe I and a handful of others, in the same car, could have given him a run for those titles.

“I’m in that top group. As far as talent or ability to push a car to the limit – the skill set – there are a few of us that can get there.

“But we need the right car, and then, for this group, the difference is less about speed and more about the ability to nail results race after race.

“On a given day, a few of us could win. Where you have to hand it to Lewis is that he does it time and time again.”

Ricciardo says Hamilton’s most impressive attribute is his ability to churn out consistently strong performances on a race-by-race basis, and the Australian admits he would struggle to maintain such a high level for the same period of time.

“What separates that little group, beyond the car, is the mental and physical ability to deal with everything this sport throws at you, week in, week out,” he explained.

“It’s the days when your health isn’t so good, or you’re feeling a bit jet-lagged, or you’ve just had a bad week. If you can still get in the car and deliver on them, then you can be champion.

“The point with Lewis – the point that makes him special – is that he has done that six times. Even if you argue he’s had the best equipment, that achievement is remarkable.

“To stay on himself year after year, to keep pushing himself, to take on the pressure of being the one we’re all hunting: that’s remarkable.

“For all my confidence – and I’m certain I could win a title against him – could I battle and beat him year after year? I don’t know. It’s some achievement, and it warrants respect.”

 

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