Lewis Hamilton has hailed Daniel Ricciardo as one of the best drivers in Formula One at present following his impressive performances this season.
In going up against four-times champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull following his promotion from Toro Rosso, few people gave Ricciardo a chance this term.
[ For the track guides, team profiles and the latest standings see our interactive F1 2014 graphic here ]
Yet the amiable Australian has stunned everyone in the sport, and in many eyes has been one of the stars of the show.
Other than Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, Ricciardo is the only driver to win a grand prix, taking the chequered flag in two of the 11 races to date, propelling him to third in the drivers’ standings.
The 24-year-old’s maiden victory in Canada may have come at Mercedes’ expense as both drivers suffered technical issues, but his win last time out in Hungary saw him come up trumps in tricky conditions.
“He’s been driving fantastically well from the beginning of the year,” assessed Hamilton.
“It’s not only now, but through the whole year he’s shown his capability and is going from strength to strength.
“He’s not only one of the nicest guys in the paddock, but also one of the best drivers here, for sure.”
Fernando Alonso, who achieved his best result this year for Ferrari when runner-up to Ricciardo at the Hungaroring, feels the man from Perth will be a worthy adversary for years to come
“He’s leading the champion team. That says it all,” was Alonso’s punchy assessment.
“Congratulations to him for what he is doing in this year’s championship.
“It’s going to be an interesting fight in the next couple of years.”
Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE