‘It’s Verstappen v Hamilton in this year’s title fight’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton


Mark Webber has ruled Ferrari out of this year’s title fight, saying the battle will be between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Last season Verstappen claimed a career-best third in the Drivers’ Championship while Hamilton romped to his sixth World title.

Ferrari were not involved with Charles Leclerc P4 to Sebastian Vettel’s fifth.

It was the first time since 2016 that a Red Bull driver had finished ahead of the Scuderia in the standings.

This year Webber reckons Red Bull will repeat the feat with the Aussie predicting that Verstappen will be the one to challenge Hamilton for the Drivers’ title.

“I think it’s between him and Lewis,” he told Ziggo Sport. “I don’t see anyone else at the party to be honest.

“Ferrari won’t be there this year.

“I don’t see anyone else that can take it to Lewis. So it has to be Max.”

Ferrari failed to shine in pre-season testing, the Scuderia off the pace.

While the Italian stable initially said that it was because it was focused on the long game, rather than winning the Winter World Championship, Ferrari subsequently admitted its SF1000 may not be up to scratch.

But while Ferrari’s car isn’t up there with Mercedes, Webber says Red Bull’s is.

While Valtteri Bottas set the pace in Barcelona with a 1:15.732, Verstappen was second quickest with a 1:16.269 on a slower tyre compound.

Webber feels Verstappen’s title bid is in the hands of Honda and whether the Japanese engine supplier can take the fight to Mercedes.

The former Red Bull driver added: “I have faith in Milton Keynes, in their aerodynamics and how they operate as a team.

“It’s just a question of whether Honda will be able to take on Mercedes for an entire season.

“They [Mercedes] probably still have a bit more power, then you can also drive with more downforce and just make your life a little easier.”

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