In 2019, Hamilton won his sixth world drivers' title, his fifth in the turbo-hybrid era. The Briton is now just one championship away from equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven titles.
Ricciardo, who spent the 2019 campaign with Renault, recently spoke to Autocar and asserted that he was in that “top group” of drivers on the F1 grid.
The Australian outlined that most of the 20 drivers possess the capacity to win, but doing so on a regular basis is a much tougher task.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Since 2014, Mercedes has been the pick of the field, winning every constructors' and drivers' titles. However, Ricciardo maintains that Hamilton's feat is still impressive, despite having arguably the best car in the field underneath him.
Ricciardo believes that he could come out on top against Hamilton in a title fight, but is not so sure if he could do so over a number of seasons.
“The point with Lewis, the point that makes him special, is that he has done that six times,” Ricciardo commented. “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.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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