Lewis Hamilton thinks it is unlikely Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo will be his Mercedes teammate in 2019.
Ricciardo is the key cog in this year’s driver market and has raised his value with two highly-praised wins in China and Monte Carlo. The options open to him are another contract extension with Red Bull or a move to either Mercedes or Ferrari, both of which have drivers out of contract at the end of the season.
Hamilton is one of them, although he and Mercedes still expect an extension to be signed soon. The two Finns, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, are the pair who would be most vulnerable to be replace, but Hamilton cannot see a situation where he is driving alongside Ricciardo next season.
“Obviously in the top areas there’s only Ferrari and Mercedes he could ever consider, but currently here that’s unlikely, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Hamilton said. “And then if you look at Ferrari I imagine Kimi’s going to want to continue.
“I mean, why not? He’s driving really, really well this year and he doesn’t see to be aging so I think he will go a little bit longer.”
Ricciardo’s win in Monaco propelled him to third in the championship, 38 points behind Hamilton. By contrast, the Australian’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is sixth in the standings after a messy and controversial string of incidents and mistakes.
Hamilton thinks Ricciardo’s advantage over the young Dutchman puts him in a good position when talking about his future.
“Ultimately he’s got a teammate that from what I hear is making a lot more money than him yet he’s more consistent, keeping the car together a lot more and more often than not pulling through. So It’s important in the team to always feel you’re valued or at your worth and your contribution to it. I would imagine his future is there, but he’s one of the top drivers so I’m sure there will be options for him.”
As he did immediately after the race, Hamilton joked that he had offered his managerial services to Ricciardo — his first bit of advice was to look at the potential of his current team.
“If at some stage Red Bull get an engine they’re going to be even closer in the mix with us, and there is still a long, long way to go [this year] obviously. Who knows? They could win many more races. So I think he’s just got to keep his head down, keep doing what he’s doing, but he should definitely have a contract on his table and he should have his options ready.
“I was talking to him and I don’t know if he has all his options already lined out for him and I was like ‘Get them to your manager dude! Let me know if you want me to do it!'”