Max Verstappen has added a great deal of excitement to Formula 1 since he became a real threat to Mercedes and Ferrari last season.
The 20-year-old drives with the exuberance of, well, a 20-year-old, and it’s hardly a surprise that Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are rarely willing to go head-to-head with the Red Bull driver.
Verstappen has been immense since retiring in last month’s Singapore Grand Prix, winning in Malaysia and then running Lewis Hamilton close in Japan on Sunday.
There are now rumours that Verstappen could join Mercedes or Ferrari in the coming years and the Dutchman’s former Formula 3 team boss believes it’s “just a matter of time” before he’s a Formula 1 world champion.
"He's an exceptional guy. I think he's one of the biggest talents in decades in racing," Frits van Amersfoort, team boss to Verstappen at Van Amersfoort Racing in 2014, said last year, per BBC Sport.
"For the insiders Max's talents were pretty obvious 10 yeas ago when he was still doing karts.
“Everyone knew there was a brilliant talent coming up. It's just a matter of time until he is champion, I have no doubt about that."
Rosberg loved Verstappen's move on Vettel
Formula 1’s most exciting young talent caught the eye of the reigning champion at Suzuka at the weekend.
Nico Rosberg, who won the title with Mercedes before announcing his surprise retirement, has released a vlog of his trip to Japan.
And as he watched the race unfold, he was particularly impressed with Verstappen’s overtake on Sebastian Vettel on the first lap.
First, that cool, confident manoeuvre to surpass the Ferrari driver.
Watch: Rosberg's reaction
Rosberg’s reaction to the move was class.
“Oooooh… unbelievable that guy!" he says. "Unbelievable! How awesome is that?!
“Jesus… unreal! Just relentless huh? Relentless!”
Skip to 4:39 in Rosberg’s blog to watch his reaction.
Verstappen’s early move into second place gave him a chance at making it back-to-back victories but he was simply unable to overtake Hamilton.
“I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me," Verstappen said after the race.
"When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn't really attack him, but I tried."
It won’t be long before Verstappen is leading the way instead of playing catch up.
When do you think Max Verstappen will become a Formula 1 world champion? Let us know in the comments section below!
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