Ricciardo: Hamilton has the best car but we can't disrespect him

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While Lewis Hamilton has had the best car in Formula 1, his ability shouldn't be disrespected, Daniel Ricciardo believes.

Of course, last year the Briton matched Michael Schumacher as a seven-time world champion after winning his sixth title in seven years as Mercedes' dominance continued.

Given the performance advantage the German manufacturer has enjoyed however, Hamilton's critics often claim his achievements are only down to his car.

“To answer it diplomatically, I think Lewis isn’t the only one that could win races in that car,” Ricciardo said in an interview with Square Mile.

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“That’s obviously my opinion and I think George Russell, in a way, showed the possibility of that by pretty much beating Valtteri [Bottas] in his first race. So you could argue that just maybe Lewis doesn’t have the strongest competition.

“I think where we can’t be too aggressive or disrespectful to Lewis is that, do a few of us believe we could beat him? Yes. I’m quite sure of that.

"But none of us have ever been in the hunt for a title. None of us have dealt with that pressure. None of us have had that year after year.

“Pretty much every weekend he rocks up to a race. Yes, he has the best car, but he’s also expected to win all the time, and if he doesn’t, it’s ‘okay, what happened to Lewis?’”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz echoed the Australian, insisting Hamilton's talent shouldn't be underestimated. 

“He has all the qualities a driver would like to have,” he told Italy's Corriere della Sera.

“He has no weaknesses, I see that on the track. Maybe he lacked competition in some seasons, he had to beat one-two opponents at most.

“But if we put everyone in the same car, Lewis would be among the best. Almost certainly the best.”