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Daniel Ricciardo: 'Lewis Hamilton proving doubters wrong'

Daniel Ricciardo: 'Lewis Hamilton proving doubters wrong'
© Reuters
Lewis Hamilton has a 14-point advantage over his title rival after winning three of the opening four races.

Daniel Ricciardo believes Lewis Hamilton is proving his doubters wrong by keeping rival Max Verstappen in his shade.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, 36, heads into next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix with a 14-point lead over the Red Bull driver after winning three of the opening four rounds.

Hamilton has dominated Formula One in recent years and some have put the Englishman's success solely down to the strength of his all-conquering Mercedes.

But following his impressive performances against Verstappen this season, Ricciardo said: "You are starting to see people properly tipping their hat to Lewis.

"He is getting it dished back at him by Max but he is holding his ground and showing people who doubted him why he is what he is and why he is as good as he is.

"Who will get the best of it? You would always take experience so if it was down to the wire, Lewis has already shown some strong signs, but if there is a gap Max goes for it. So you can flip a coin."

Ricciardo's McLaren team will compete in a one-off livery in Monte Carlo, incorporating sponsor Gulf Oil International's retro blue and orange design.

The British team are enjoying a strong campaign and sit in third in the constructors' standings, five points ahead of Ferrari.

Lando Norris has already recorded one podium finish for McLaren this year and chief executive Zak Brown hopes Hamilton's battle with Verstappen will lead to further chances for his team.

The two title rivals came within centimetres of a collision at the opening bend of last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

"Rivalries are great for the sport and hopefully at some stage that will create some opportunity for us because it is only a matter of time until they are both determined not to let up into turn one and neither of them come out of the other side," said Brown.

"Lewis has had a pretty easy ride outside of 2016 with Nico Rosberg so I think it is a great rivalry.

"Max has gotten Lewis to step up – not that he needed it – but he is definitely on his A-game.

"It is clear Lewis is a very smart driver and you can see him sitting there and waiting to strike. He is not over-eager and that is his experience coming through."

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the Spanish Grand Prix on May 9, 2021
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