Defending Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, believes Red Bull Racing will have a “fighting chance” for the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship.
His comments came during Thursday’s press conference for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. In the end, Hamilton made reference on two occasions of his belief in Red Bull’s competitiveness for the upcoming season.
“You’re going to be surprised [by Red Bull]” Hamilton had earlier remarked.
Daniel Ricciardo, who joined Hamilton alongside Sebastian Vettel for the press conference, was complimentary of Hamilton’s “fighting chance” remarks, jokingly quipping, “I really, really hope Lewis is right.”
Hamilton originally brought the topic of Red Bull’s competitiveness up when a journalist questioned Ricciardo’s future in Formula 1, given that the Australian will be out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season.
In his answer, Hamilton subtly seemed to imply that Ricciardo would be better to stay with Red Bull than switch to a currently successful team, such as Ferrari or Mercedes. These comments only further suggest that Hamilton is weary of Red Bull’s pace in this new season.
As Ricciardo admitted himself, “prep’s been good.” Since the V6 era begun in 2014, Red Bull have struggled to make inroads from the get-go of seasons, instead coming strong in the closing stages.
Last year, Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, his home race, after a mechanical failure. He talked about that race in today’s press conference, admitting his annoyance after he missed most of the atmosphere, including the national anthem, due to his car being stuck in the garage.
When asked if this year’s Australian Grand Prix would be more fun, Ricciardo quickly affirmed, “it has to be more fun.”
He then proceeded to reiterate that Red Bull “had a good winter.”
Red Bull had promising pace and reliability throughout pre-season testing, held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya earlier in March. Ricciardo was the quickest driver on the second day of the second test, four tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
“We’re definitely feeling better about ourselves than we did 12 months ago,” he told media after the last of testing concluded on March 9th.
Ricciardo has been nothing but confident ahead of his seventh Australian Grand Prix this weekend. Green Flag F1 reported earlier this week that Ricciardo was wanting to get “what we deserve” on the streets of Albert Park this year, having never finished on the podium prior.
The Australian Grand Prix weekend will officially start with on-track action tomorrow, when all drivers contest the two ninety minute practice sessions.
The race itself will be held at 4:10pm local time on Sunday, March 25th.