Having had a brief taste of it in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton says he is “looking forward” to going wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen next season.
Hamilton battled Verstappen in the opening stint of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix before an early pit stop meant he relinquished the lead.
Hamilton, though, was back up to P1 as the pit stops played out only to be overtaken by Verstappen.
The Dutchman, on fresher tyres, shot past Hamilton and began to build up an advantage only to be spun by Esteban Ocon.
Hamilton won the race, Verstappen had to settle for second.
“This year they’ve been incredibly strong and I can only imagine next year, they’re going to be even stronger,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“I think for the sport it will be great if Red Bull are more in the battle with Ferrari and Mercedes and we welcome any more teams.
“Max is driving really well this year. He’s such an awesome, young talent. I’m looking forward to many races with him.
“At the weekend in Brazil, we had the engine problems so I didn’t feel I was really able to fight with him on track but I’m looking forward to the day that happens.”
And he’s not the only member of the Mercedes team predicting big things for Verstappen.
Speaking to Reuters after the Brazil race, motorsport boss Toto Wolff was asked about Verstappen’s behaviour toward Ocon after their clash cost him the win.
Wolff replied: “In a few years’ time he may look back at these images and wonder whether this was the right behavior, but you cannot rush this, because this is a learning process.
“You see that Max is a future champion, he is incredibly talented and has speed, and when the raw edges are off, he is one day a World Champion.”