Red Bull haven’t had consistently good results this season but Daniel Ricciardo’s two wins – in China and Monaco - make him a real title contender in the eyes of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton...
Ricciardo’s defensive drive in an ailing car in Monte Carlo was in stark contrast to his spectacular charge through the field to victory in Shanghai, but it moved him level with Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on two wins apiece so far in 2018.
The problem for Red Bull has been retirements and issues in other races, with Ricciardo only adding a further 22 points to his victories and failing to finish in Bahrain and Azerbaijan.
Monaco’s success at least saw Ricciardo move into third place in the drivers’ championship and despite a 38-point advantage over the Honey Badger, Hamilton sees him as a genuine title threat.
“It definitely is a three-way fight,” said Hamilton. “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.
“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.”