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F1: Daniel Ricciardo is in this title fight - Lewis Hamilton

Jamie Davies
862   //    01 Jun 2018, 17:52 IST

And then there were three

Lewis Hamilton is not holding back about this year's Driver's Championship by confirming his thoughts that Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo is now in the title fight.

Red Bull had an inconsistent start to the season but the team from Milton Keynes do share the same amount of wins as Mercedes and Ferrari, two each.

And that is thanks to the Smiley assassin who won at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix adding to his dramatic victory in China back in April.

Hamilton has so far won in Azerbaijan and Spain while Vettel was victorious in the opening two races of 2018 in Australia and Bahrain.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP...
Hamilton is bidding to win a fifth World Championship

The Briton leads the Driver's Championship by 14 points ahead of Vettel while Ricciardo is in third position, 24 points behind the German.

After Ricciardo's win on Sunday, Hamilton told the Formula 1 website: “It definitely is a three-way fight.”

Despite the world champion's claim Mercedes and Ferrari still look the teams to beat for the rest of the campaign.

Hamilton added: “Ferrari, I think, are still 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 capitalised 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 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 [in Monaco] was not the most exciting, it’s great for the fans to see this battle that we have."

The first six races has seen all three teams go out and win twice setting up an unpredictable and exciting Championship for the fans.

Hamilton is relishing the challenge and added: “I’m telling you, we’re doing everything we can to win the race - and then the Red Bulls win it, 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 and how I can communicate, how I can really pick the right set-up and get it right for the weekend - all these different things. I’m enjoying that.”

The future

Will both drivers stay at their respective teams?

While the 2018 championship is well underway, the futures of Hamilton and Ricciardo are still undecided.

Mercedes' Non-Executive Chairman Niki Lauda told British TV station Sky Sports F1 in Monaco on Sunday that Hamilton will sign a new contract to stay with the silver arrows.

And at Red Bull the team's advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has apparently warned Ricciardo about joining either Mercedes or Ferrari for 2019.

Marko said: "We want to keep him and Daniel knows it. Why should he go to Mercedes or Ferrari? To be a number 2 driver?

"With us, Daniel has equal opportunities with the same equipment and no team orders. I think he knows that too," he added.

So while there has been no set in stone yet, it is looking very likely both Hamilton and Ricciardo could remain at their teams for another season at least.

Do you agree with Hamilton's thoughts on the Championship? Could Ricciardo really snatch it? Have your say in the comments below.

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Jamie Davies
Your Formula 1 and Tennis Writer.
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