Max Verstappen reckons Lewis Hamilton will “absolutely” have to raise his game to cope with a challenge from the Red Bull racer next season.
Verstappen raced to a dominant victory in Mexico last Sunday, beating Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by almost 20 seconds.
The win was the Dutchman’s third in Formula 1 with many predicting he will be a future World Champion, including Hamilton.
“There is always someone there waiting to take my position,” said the Mercedes driver in the wake of his championship success. “I’ve got Max sitting there waiting to take it.
“I’ve got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him and that motivates me.”
Singled out by Hamilton, Verstappen agrees that the four-time World Champion will have to up his game next season.
“Well, he has to. Absolutely,” he told The Drive with a laugh.
“That’s nothing bad against Lewis, but when you win three, four World titles, your sharpness kind of disappears.
“So I think at one point if you have a real challenge again from someone, you have to raise your game.
“Because you’re not really used to fighting it out every single race for victories or podiums, which I’ve been doing for the last three years.
“I’ve never been in his position, so I’m really determined to get there. I’m really fired up to achieve that.”
And while the Red Bull driver was full of praise for Britain’s most succcessful F1 racer, he says the cars that Mercedes have designed have helped him to his four times.
“I mean, a lot about it is the whole package,” Verstappen added. “Of course, he has been in the best car for three years now, so that helps a lot.
That doesn’t take anything away from Lewis, because he’s a very talented driver. He’s naturally gifted.
“That’s the difference compared to his team-mates, for example, that’s why he’s winning the championships. He’s better than everyone around him.
“Hopefully, next year we will have at least a similar package so I can take up the challenge, but we have to wait and see.”