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Hamilton is a complex man, says Ricciardo

 

Big respect: Lewis Hamilton is close to a sixth world title
Big respect: Lewis Hamilton is close to a sixth world title

By Philip Duncan

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo says Lewis Hamilton is a complex character but someone who he holds in great esteem.

As Hamilton closes in on a remarkable sixth world championship - and will start as the favourite to win for a ninth time this season on Sunday in Singapore after setting the pace in practice - the Briton (34) continues to divide opinion in his homeland. Why? "I guess he is complex," Ricciardo said. "I have always had positive interactions with him, but I am not silly and I can see how people have other opinions.

"Whether it is his lifestyle, or that sometimes he can be quite reserved and you don't get much out of him. He reached a high level at a young age, and there is the fame that comes with that. He was exposed to the celebrity lifestyle and naturally that can have an effect.

"He has admitted, too, that he is trying to find his own feet. He put on his Instagram account that he is trying to find his purpose in life so there are times when, I guess, he is trying to figure himself out."

Hamilton holds a 63-point championship lead over Valtteri Bottas in his inevitable march towards another triumph.

There is every chance he could obtain a big enough lead to wrap up the title in just three weeks' time at the Japanese Grand Prix, particularly if Bottas' indifferent form continues. On Friday, the Finn put his Mercedes in the wall while Hamilton led Red Bull's Max Verstappen by 0.184 seconds at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Despite the lightning start to his championship defence, Hamilton has not had it all his own way in recent times. The last six races have been shared between Verstappen, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel, however, has not triumphed in over a year. He heads into Sunday's race a staggering 115 points behind Hamilton and in the spotlight once again following his latest mistake, a spin at Ferrari's home race in Italy a fortnight ago.

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