Daniel Ricciardo admits he feels some envy over not being involved in the title battle currently playing out between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The fight for the 2021 F1 World Championship has been closely fought throughout the season, with plenty of moments of controversy along the way, and it will now go down to the wire at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Both Hamilton and Verstappen will arrive at the finale on equal points, and Ricciardo thinks that the rivalry has been good for the sport, though wishes he could be battling at the front alongside the title contenders himself.
"It's kind of what you hope for every year," Ricciardo told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"You want a battle like this. You've got the veteran, [the] 'most record holder' Lewis, on one hand, and then you've got the youngest-ever winner on the other.
"So it's a really cool battle, it's a great story. Obviously they're going toe-to-toe, and it's a real, genuine battle.
"[I have] some part of envy [from] not being a part of it but, ultimately, for the sport and as a fan of the sport, it's a dream scenario."
Distractions in the title fight
Ricciardo might not be in the battle for the championship himself but the Australian can still understand how the intensity of this year's fight may have affected the drivers.
"I totally get it," he explained.
"We were on the grid [ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix] and, before the race start, they're playing on the big screens all the highlights of Lewis and Max this year.
"If I was in their position, [when] you're trying to get focused on the race and you can hear [it] on the loudspeaker as well... I don't know, I think that's an additional distraction that they don't need before the start of a race.
"It's not my battle, so I didn't really care, but if I'm in that battle and it's kind of... You can't escape it, let alone trying to focus on the start of the race, [so] maybe that was a distraction that would have been a bit annoying.
"But again, of course, it is a battle royale, so everyone's fully invested in it."
As for Ricciardo, the McLaren driver has had a difficult run of form in recent races, but scored points in Jeddah by finishing fifth following a chaotic Grand Prix.
F1 Podcast: Verstappen/Hamilton battle turns ugly ahead of title showdown
Are Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes now in the box seat, and is Max Verstappen's driving a sign of a desperate man as he scrambles to win his maiden title? F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discuss this and more in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast!