Daniel Ricciardo weighs in on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappens wheel-to-wheel racing

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Daniel Ricciardo has insisted that he cannot remember a time when Formula One had a rivalry as fierce as the one shared by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. The Mercedes and Red Bull duo’s battle was the highlight of the 2021 season.

The pair incredibly went into the final race of the year level on 369.5 points ahead of the winner-takes-all Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.  

An incredibly controversial finale saw Verstappen crowned world champion for the first time.  

Hamilton was denied a record eighth title following a contentious decision by the FIA. 

The Brit had led for most of the race before a safety car was deployed. Five lapped cars were allowed to un-lap before the final lap was started. 

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On softer tyres, Verstappen was able to overtake Hamilton to win the Grand Prix. Mercedes had two protests thrown out before backtracking on their appeal.  

The battle captured the attention of the wider public and the pair’s fellow racers have spoken glowingly of their clashes.  

McLaren star Ricciardo, who finished eighth on the F1 Drivers’ World Championship leaderboard, has revealed that he is envious of Hamilton and Verstappen.  

The Australian cannot remember a time when two racers were side by side in so many races throughout a single campaign. 

“Of course, I’m envious,” Ricciardo said when asked if he wanted to reach the same heights as Hamilton and Verstappen with McLaren. 

“But I’ve been envious for eight, nine years. It’s nothing new, but of course, it’s exciting the thought of it. 

“For me like everyone, I’m a fan… I’m a driver, but I’m still a fan of the sport. It’s been great and take the envy aside, it’s awesome for F1 to have the battle. 

“I can’t recall a year where two guys found themselves side by side on so many races.

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“I feel like 75 per cent of races they’d gone wheel to wheel at some point, so it’s pretty awesome. 

“Of course, I wish I was part of it, but again, just for the sport and it’s been a while Lewis has been taken to this water, if you will, taken out to this, what do you say, deep waters. 

“It’s nice and you’ve also got… I know Max is not the young buck anymore, but he’s still that young generation, and obviously, Lewis is now one of the oldest guys on the grid, but it’s cool to see both ends of the spectrum go at it. 

“From a fan point of view, it [was] awesome.”
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