F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton says he would welcome the challenge of someday having Daniel Ricciardo as a teammate at Team Mercedes.
More to the point, he takes it as a compliment that his rivals want to take him on in equal equipment. Last week, during the United States Grand Prix weekend, Ricciardo expressed a desire to eventually join Mercedes now that his Team Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen was handed a two-year contract. Ricciardo was only given a one-year extension and is naturally pondering his next move.
A vacancy could arise at Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas also on a one-year deal with the German marque.
"Daniel is a fantastic driver and it would be a privilege to race against him," Hamilton told Autosport. "He's a great character. He always brings a lot of positivity for his team. I think it's interesting. I think it's cool. I take it as a compliment when people say they (want to race against me on the same team).
"I don't truly necessarily believe that people want to be up alongside me, because that is not always necessarily the best thing for an individual. But in some cases, it could be a really good thing because it can help you grow. You look at Daniel, he's got a great driver in his teammate. And to be honest, he's got to really work to outperform him. You've always got to beat the person you're with first before you can look to compete against someone else and beat them.
"That's just my personal opinion."
Hamilton has had more than his share of tough teammates since making his debut a decade ago. The only one to best him during the entire duration of their partnership was Jenson Button at McLaren. But the three-time champion has often cited his very first teammate, Fernando Alonso, as the driver that provided the biggest test of his abilities.
Thus, Hamilton hopes he could provide that to Ricciardo or another one of his contemporaries down the line should Bottas not return.
"There are a lot of great drivers here who I would be happy to race against," Hamilton said. "I don't mind who I race against, anyone in the world, as long as somehow you're able to maintain positivity in the team and hopefully you're still fighting another team as well.”