Daniel Ricciardo has the confidence and skill set to make it a three-way world title battle

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Whether he is driving a caravan around a Formula One track or throwing touchdowns with Tom Brady on a super yacht in the south of France, Daniel Ricciardo is a man who knows no boundaries.

The Australian, fresh off the back of a stunning victory around the streets of Monaco, is now third in the drivers’ standings after his win in the Principliaty.

Ricciardo topped every session across the weekend in Monte Carlo – including each of the three qualifying sessions – before overcoming a serious loss in power to beat Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag.

In the midst of a purple patch, it was a perfect weekend for the Perth native and begs the question; can he challenge for the title this season?

The Red Bull driver is now 38 points behind Hamilton, who is 14 ahead of Vettel.

All three have now chalked up two victories each this season and with another 15 races to go, the title fight has already intensified.

For all the talk of a two horse race in 2018, Ricciardo has firmly put his name in the frame.

At 28, he is two years Vettel’s junior and four years younger than Hamilton, and although he is nowhere near as successful as either opponent, he is starting to showcase the skills and confidence to challenge two of this generation’s best.

In China last month, he picked off Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas in three clean sweeps to rise through the field from sixth for his first win of the season.

It was a masterful performance, with each overtake aggressive but smoother than the last.

It was just one of the many examples of his genuine class behind the wheel, and with a competitive car, he could potentially topple the big names on a consistent basis.

Reliability issues saw the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull suffer their worst campaign in 2017 in nearly 11 years, but their new chassis and a strong Renault-powered engine should put them in a position to challenge their rivals this season, as they bid to close the gap at the top of the constructors’ championship.

But for all the positive talk coming out of Buckinghamshire, Ricciardo faces an uncertain future at Red Bull and is unwilling to sign beyond 2018 until he understands the potential of this car.

Christian Horner and Co wil be desperate to keep hold of the biggest name in the sport at the moment. Along with teammate Max Verstappen, Red Bull boast the most exciting driver line-up on the grid.

With Bottas and Raikkonen entering the final year on their respective deals, a driver merry-go-round could ensue at the end of the campaign with the Australian a front runner to secure one of the Mercedes or Ferrari seats.

Primed to be a world champion, Ricciardo has the tools at his disposal and a car – if consistent – to make this dream a reality. And with his confidence sky high and his driving ability on song, now is the time for Ricciardo to step up and show why is one of the leading men on the grid.

Any driver can flicker before fading, but the ever-smiling Australian needs to prove his recent ferocious form is here to stay and that he can firmly push Vettel and Hamilton in the title race and in future years.

Hamilton may lift the title for a fifth time in November, but this could be the year we see Ricciardo close in as a serious contender for the world championship.

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