Formula 1 championship favourite Sebastian Vettel has claimed he recognised the glowing ability of his rival Lewis Hamilton as young karters.
Vettel and Hamilton raced against each other in the 2005 F3 Championship, which was won by the latter, and they have both progressed to dominate F1 in recent years.
Seven out of the last nine titles have been won by the pair, yet they hadn't directly faced off against each other for the championship until this term.
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The drivers were snapped up after their impressive performances at youth level, with Vettel racing for BMW and Toro Rosso before going on to Red Bull, where he won four consecutive championships between 2010 and 2013.
Hamilton began at McLaren, where he won his first world title in 2008, following up with two more in 2014 and 2015 following his move to Mercedes.
And, in an interview with his former Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, Vettel admitted he knew how good Hamilton would be almost 20 years ago.
"I remember him in 1999, he finished third in the European Championship in karting, and the team I was racing with was saying 'this guy, he will go all the way'," he stated.
"On-on-one was more Formula 3, I was in my first year, he was in the second year and blowing
everyone away. I didn't get much chance, I joined him on the podium a couple of times.
"That was when you saw no matter what -- yes, [you can say] great year, second year so more experience, great car, whatever -- but whatever the conditions, he was always there and
"In the end when someone is always there, always delivering -- you might get lucky for a day, or whatever, but not for a year."
The German takes a 14-point lead over Hamilton into the second half of the season following his win in the Hungarian Grand Prix last time out, after Hamilton allowed teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish ahead of him in third.
The deficit had been cut to just a solitary point when Hamilton won his fourth consecutive British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but now faces an uphill task to regain the title he lost to Nico Rosberg last year.
However, Vettel is not resting on his laurels, as he says the Mercedes driver has what it takes to push him all the way to the final race in Abu Dhabi in November.
"He's extremely quick, extremely gifted at what he does," he stated.
"I don't think it's a huge challenge for him to drive quickly or to adapt with
different conditions and so on.
"He's always there. But he's not unbeatable."
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