Hamilton predicts Ricciardo’s driving future
LEWIS Hamilton has predicted Daniel Ricciardo will stay at Red Bull for 2019 as the Monaco GP winner prepares to consider his options for next season.
Ricciardo is in the final season of his existing contract with Red Bull and has been heavily linked with a move to Mercedes and Ferrari - both of whom currently have vacancies for next year.
But Hamilton, tacitly confirming he expects to stay with Mercedes despite having less than a year remaining on his own deal with the Silver Arrows, believes Ricciardo will remain at Red Bull for at least another season.
"I would imagine his future is there. He is one of the top drivers and in the top areas there are only Ferrari and Mercedes that he could ever consider," Hamilton said.
"But that is unlikely here and l don't think that is going to happen. And if you look at Ferrari, I imagine Kimi will want to continue - he is driving really well this year and doesn't seem to be ageing."
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However, in a week when Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested Hamilton's wage demands were the only plausible explanation for why the world champion is still to reach a fresh agreement with Mercedes, Hamilton indicated that Ricciardo should only be prepared to stay at Red Bull if he achieves pay parity with Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman signed a bumper new deal with Red Bull seven months ago, which is believed to make him one of the highest earners in the sport, but has been emphatically out-performed by Ricciardo so far this season
"From what l hear, he has a teammate who is making a lot more money than him, and yet he is more consistent at keeping the car together and more often than not pulling it through," said Hamilton. "It's important in a team you are valued at what you a worth."
Watch the moment Daniel Ricciardo returned to the Red Bull Energy Station to cheers and high-fives before he embraced his family.
But Hamilton, who faced a similar dilemma five years ago before deciding to quit McLaren for Mercedes, added: "At the moment he is the probably the lead driver in that team so it's not a bad place to be.
"At some stage Red Bull are going to get an engine and then they will be even closer in the mix with us. He just needs to keep his head down and doing what he is currently doing."
Hamilton and Ricciardo, along with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, have claimed two victories apiece this season, although it is the Mercedes driver who currently leads the world championship by 14 points from Vettel and 38 from Ricciardo.
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