Daniel Ricciardo has backed Nico Rosberg to trump Lewis Hamilton in the all-Mercedes battle for Formula One’s drivers’ championship.
Red Bull star Ricciardo has been the most consistent challenger to the runaway Silver Arrows’ this season, and sits third in the individual standings with 179 points – a whopping 86 adrift of Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by eight points with six races to go.
Hamilton clawed back a 43-point deficit to his team-mate to lead by 19 points at the mid-season shutdown, but Rosberg has since won three races in succession to seize the initiative back.
And Ricciardo believes the German is now best placed to go on and secure his first world title.
“Over the summer break when Lewis made up that deficit to Nico and came back, it was like ‘OK, no-one’s going to touch Lewis’.
“Nico has come back… I’ve got to pick one!
“I’m going to throw a spanner in the works and say Rosberg [will win].”
Rosberg dominated in Singapore last time out, a track that Mercedes had struggled badly at 12 months previously, with Hamilton unable to get going across the weekend.
Four-time world champion Alain Prost believes Rosberg’s performance at the Marina Bay circuit proved his title-winning credentials.
“Nico had a fantastic weekend,” Prost told Canal Plus. “On Saturday he got pole and on Sunday he was in full control of the race. For Hamilton it was not such a good weekend: not competitive and less consistent.
“Before Singapore, it seemed that Hamilton was more competitive but last weekend Nico proved that he is a very strong opponent.
“We have seen with Mercedes that one driver seems to perform very well and the other a little less. We have not really seen them battle wheel to wheel but it seems to me that this is likely to happen before the end of the season.
“For me, the outcome of the title will depend on the details, the psychology, the effectiveness of the starts and possibly other cars interfering with their fight.”