Formula One: Hamilton will not catch the leaders, says Ricciardo

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton practising on the track during the third practice session at the Spa-Francorchamps race track on Aug 28, 2016.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton practising on the track during the third practice session at the Spa-Francorchamps race track on Aug 28, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

(AFP) - Lewis Hamilton will not be able to catch the leaders after starting from the back of the grid for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, said Australian Daniel Ricciardo on Saturday.

The Red Bull driver, who qualified fifth, said the championship leader and defending three-time champion would find the task too much.

Hamilton will start from the back row after accumulating multiple penalties for the introduction of three new power units in his Mercedes car this weekend.

He has stock-piled the units in readiness for the final eight races in which he hopes to clinch his fourth world title.

He leads Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg, who took pole position, by 19 points with nine races to go including Sunday.

Ricciardo said: "If we have a clean race and we don't get held up by anyone who shouldn't be in front of us, I don't think we'll see Lewis in the mirrors.

"If we race our quickest race, we won't see him. I'm sure he's going to come through, but if us top five do what we've got to do, he won't quite catch us."

Ricciardo's Red Bull team-mate local hero Dutch teenager Max Verstappen is the only driver in the leading five on the grid who will start the race on super-soft tyres.

"We talked about maybe doing two different strategies and Max wanted the super-softs and I wanted the softs so it was easy," said Ricciardo.

"The super-soft is a bit more inconclusive and if it doesn't work you can lose a lot of lap time with blistering and other things...

"For me, the soft is the safer option. The super-soft is not going to last much more than a handful of laps."