Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Daniel Ricciardo’s coach, Michael Italiano, claims that the Australian believes he is the best driver in Formula One, ahead of even Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton who wowed audiences during a closely contested battle for the world title in 2021.
Ricciardo finished out of the points and a lap down in Abu Dhabi, where Hamilton and Verstappen battled it out for the crown.
The 32-year-old therefore had to settle for eighth in the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, 45 points behind team-mate Lando Norris.
But there were plenty of positives for the Australian to take during the course of his first season with McLaren, not least in Monza where he and Norris pulled off a sensational one-two finish.
Such achievements highlight Ricciardo’s talent, even if the McLaren car could not compete with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull over the course of the year.
In an interview with Express Sport’s Daniel Moxon, Italiano claimed that Ricciardo has what it takes to outperform anyone if given the right tools – and certainly believes he can do so.
“A world title one day is 100 per cent the goal – it’s always been the goal from day one,” he said.
“I have full belief that he’s good enough for a world championship, and he’s got full belief that he’s the best. If the car is good enough, he’ll make it happen.”
Fighting for wins alongside Hamilton and Verstappen was scarcely on Ricciardo’s radar in 2021, with McLaren finishing fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
But as changes in car design threaten to shift the balance of power in 2022, a challenge to Verstappen and Hamilton’s dominance may not be too far away.
Ricciardo has finished as high as third in the drivers’ standings during his career, in 2014 and 2016.
He also outscored Verstappen for two of their three years as team-mates at Red Bull, perhaps another sign that he could mix it with Hamilton and the Dutchman next season if his car permits.
In an interview with racingnews365.com, Ricciardo reinforced his self-belief while pointing out who he would consider the primary threat if he did find himself fighting at the top.
“Until the day I stop… I’ll always believe I’m the best,” he said.
“I think the day I stop will be the day that I no longer believe I’m the best driver.
“Is Max the second best? Probably! Probably!”
Michael Italiano is Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 performance coach and the owner of MI Coaching. To find your individual training plan and begin your fitness journey, visit www.michaelitaliano.com.
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