Lewis Hamilton is favourite to win a fourth WDC in 2017 – his third with Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton had won two consecutive F1 World Drivers’ Championships before losing out by five points to Nico Rosberg last year.
Ricciardo was another 124 points adrift in third place as Mercedes dominated the grid for a third consecutive year.
However, with a new tranche of regulations coming in over the winter that will see car design shift again, the Red Bull driver believes he and Max Verstappen can make life much more difficult for the Brit.
2017 F1 Calendar
Wed, January 18, 2017
Express Sport brings you the complete Formula One 2017 race calendar
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Express Sport brings you the full Formula One 2017 calendar
“I think we can challenge,” Ricciardo said.
“If we make the same improvements we did last year then he won't have anything easy, believe me.”
The majority of the regulation changes are designed to increase cornering speeds of the cars in an effort to provide greater excitement in the sport.
But a number of drivers have also revealed that the move is expected to create higher levels of G-force in the cockpit.
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And Ricciardo admitted that he had been forced to step up his pre-season training regime in order to cope with what is expected to be the most testing F1 drive in years.
“It's been fun to put even more emphasis on January training this year – especially when you do it in Los Angeles!” Ricciardo added.
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“It’s cool here and the facilities are awesome.
“Every year January was somehow an intense time, but this year we can afford to train harder and not worry so much about weight and muscle.
“It's fun. You still can't let it get out of hand, but the intensity has risen and I can also eat a little more after I've trained, which makes me feel good!
“What do I do? Everything!
“From cycling, strength training in the gym, boxing…the list goes on and on.”