Can Daniel Ricciardo snatch the world title from Mercedes?

Ricciardo Belgium 2014 win

He's still an outsider, but Daniel Ricciardo is moving himself into contention to snatch the world title from the at-war Mercedes drivers.

It has long been agreed that the 2014 world title will be won by a Mercedes driver. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have the fastest car by some distance, allowing them to share nine of the opening 10 race wins this season. Over a lap they are untouchable and, when they behave, no one can stop them over a race distance.

The only non-Mercedes win in that sequence was Daniel Ricciardo in Canada, though at that stage the Australian was a very long way adrift of the championship leaders.

However races 11 and 12 have both been won by the Red Bull driver, allowing him to home in on the table-toppers. The gap is still quite significant, but with double points set to be awarded at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Ricciardo can not be ruled out just yet. If he keeps nibbling at the Mercedes drivers' advantage he could find himself in contention at the final round. Even if it was a long shot, this would be a significant achievement.

Asked yesterday if he is starting to believe that the title is possible, Ricciardo was keeping his expectations in check.

“If I'm within fifty coming into Abu Dhabi then yeah, but there's still a few races to go," said the Australian. "While it's still mathematically possible, yeah, we'll keep fighting.

“I see good things ahead," he continued. "If we can collect maximum points around here, it gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season: Singapore, Suzuka, just a couple to mention.

"We're really motivated right now. It's been a really good day for us on a track we didn't expect to get maximum points from so, yeah, it'll keep us smiling for a while."

It remains unlikely that he will stay in the hunt, unless Mercedes collapse under the strain of their intra-team feud. Ricciardo is 64 points behind leader Rosberg, which puts him outside double-points range. He is just 35 shy of Hamilton but, given normal circumstances at Monza, Lewis will comfortably out-score him. Mercedes will surely reign their drivers in after what happened yesterday, and they will do so precisely because Ricciardo is lurking in the background, ready to launch an unlikely title bid.

And what an achievement that is. In a car that was written off as a stinker pre-season, and with a four-time World Champion on the other side of the garage, Ricciardo has somehow given himself a sniff at the title. No matter how close he gets to it, 2014 will be remembered as a fantastic year for the Australian.

And he should not be ruled out just yet. You can be sure that the top brass at Mercedes are acutely aware of his presence.