Lewis Hamilton is “as capable as ever” and hasn’t lost any of his spark despite being beaten by George Russell so far this season, warns Daniel Ricciardo. The McLaren star said he “wouldn’t count Hamilton out” and even stressed he could win this weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix, the scene of his first victory 15 years ago.
Speaking to the Press Association, Ricciardo said: “I definitely think Lewis is as capable as ever. We all knew George was quick, and it was just how quick is he? How good is he? And he is proving he is very good.
“But I also wouldn’t count Lewis out for having the ability to win this weekend for example. I don’t think he has lost anything, no, not at all.” Russell has beaten Hamilton in every race bar the opening round in Bahrain so far this season.
The seven-time champion has also been outshone five times in qualifying as Russell stars at his new team. Russell is now the only man on the grid to finish inside the top five at every race this season with his consistency keeping him in the title fight.
His three podiums means the former Williams man is just 51 points behind Max Verstappen compared to Hamilton who has to close an 88-point deficit. Mercedes addressed Russell’s place in the team after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with strategist James Vowles setting the 24-year-old a new target.
He explained Russell only needs to learn this season and make “no mistakes” but warned he could challenge for wins on merit at some point this season. He said: “To define George’s goal for the remainder of the season is making sure that we have no mistakes, he keeps the car finishing at the end of the race.
“He builds on his knowledge and his learning and as the car performance increases he also has the opportunity to fight for podiums on merit and wins.”
Toto Wolff has refused to accept Russell is faster than Hamilton despite a 37-point gap between the pair. He explained: “Lewis has been trying some quite experimental parts of the car, and there was a different floor solution on his car that didn’t work.
“I think it’s too early to try to identify a pattern – I’m very close to it and I see one session one is faster, than the next session the other one is faster… “And yeah, the last three races these experiments have gone wrong with Lewis and not with George.”