The newly-crowned five-times champion has attracted attention for his pursuits away from the track this year, including a musical collaboration with Christina Aguilera and the launch of his first fashion collection.
Ricciardo has no doubt he could match Hamilton’s achievements in the same car. “My competitive side will always believe I’m the best and in that car I could do the same things, ‘yadda ya’,” he said.
“But I definitely give him all the respect and it’s definitely not a go at Lewis: I think he’s been pretty awesome at being able to do what he’s done continuously on track for the best part of a decade, but also done his own thing away from the track. For him to live the life he’s living and still keep up such a performance, full credit to him.”
Hamilton has consistently had the better of Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo added.
“Also this year people realise that, OK, you can have a fast car but you’ve got to be able to perform week in and week out. Seb’s for the most part had a fast car all year but when you’re fighting for the title it’s those little ‘one-percenters’ that Lewis’s has got on top of more often than him and that’s what really dictated the pace of this championship.
“I give Lewis full respect. I think the talent’s always been there, the speed’s always been there, everyone knows that but for him to maintain this level of intensity, this level of speed and commitment is pretty strong. I’ve certainly got no problem with applauding him on that.”
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