Lewis Hamilton has delivered a telling snub to Aussie rival Daniel Ricciardo after giving his thoughts on the strongest drivers in Formula One.
The British Mercedes driver secured his fourth world title by 46 points from Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, winning nine races in 2017.
Vettel, 317, pipped Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas by 12 points for second place in the overall standings, with Ricciardo ending up in a disappointing fifth.
The Aussie did however, finish 32-points above young-gun Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (sixth place) and well above two-time world champion Fernando Alonso (15th place).
In comments sure to come as a slap in the face to Ricciardo though, Hamilton told the BBC he viewed himself, Vettel, Verstappen and Alonso as the "four strongest drivers" in the sport.
"They all have different characteristics. Sebastian, for example, from this year, you could say, 'Give more space.' Not in a negative way," Hamilton said.
"Max takes a lot of risks. Also you have to give (him) more space but he is more inexperienced than the other guys.
"Fernando - toughest driver there is, so you have to keep that utmost respect for each other but you've really got to play your cards right."
Hamilton said he rated Verstappen particularly highly and regarded the 20-year-old as the future of the sport.
"Max's race-craft is very impressive. He's doing wonderful things but he is going to grow so much over the next 10 years," Hamilton said.
"I don't think it will be a problem, it'll just be freaking tough. Wouldn't that be a fight? Even I'd pay to see that."
Hamilton's assessment could be the extra motivation needed for Ricciardo, whose season finished the way it started -- in frustration as engine problems prevented him from finishing the final race.
Ricciardo accumulated 200 championship points in the season, five behind fourth-placed Raikkonen and 163 off champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
The season was a step backward for Ricciardo, who was third last year with 56 more points.
The disappointment may prompt him to contemplate his future over the break as contract negotiations loom at the end of next year.
He has previously hinted a preference not to be a spectator of Mercedes and Ferarri's two-way battle for driver and constructor championships.