Lewis Hamilton names two surprise drivers as predicted contenders for the 2019 world title

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There can be no other favourite for the Formula One drivers' title in 2019 than Lewis Hamilton.

After adding a fifth crown to his mantlepiece, the Brit is showing no signs of slowing his ascent on the list of all-time greats.

Hamilton remains two short of Michael Schumacher, who claimed five of his seven championships on the bounce between 2000 and 2004.

The 33-year-old still has time to catch the Ferrari legend, though if 2018 was an indication of the task at hand, it will be far from easy.

Ahead of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi next weekend, only 68 points separate Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in second and sixth position respectively.

The remainder of the chasing pack comprised the usual suspects in Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, but Hamilton expects younger drivers will challenge in 2019, too.

“We will definitely look at the season at the end of the year and there are always areas you look at,” he said, per ESPN.

“We didn’t win every single race, there were some mishaps at the beginning of the year and there is always room to improve.

“So, I expect to do that and that’s my expectation in myself. I have got to work to do over this winter and there will be a slightly amended approach.

“Of course, you have to dig deep because you have these young kids that are coming.

[Charles] Leclerc at Ferrari will be hungry to prove a point and you’ve got Max who is still hungry to prove a point, so I have to make sure I am still there [at the top of my game].”

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Some might accuse Verstappen of lacking the maturity to match Hamilton stride for stride at this stage.

However, it would be harsh not to acknowledge his obvious potential - particularly with Red Bull joining forces with Honda next year.

Leclerc, on the other hand, will be partnering Vettel when he leaves Sauber to occupy the first major seat of his career at Ferrari.

LECLERC RESPONDS

The Monegasque starlet was only too pleased with the kind words from the current world champion and vowed to try and live up to the expectation in just his fourth F1 campaign.

“It’s definitely an honour to hear that from Lewis,” the 21-year-old said.

“He’s an incredible driver, and I’ve watched him since quite a bit of years before arriving in Formula One.

“I’ll just try to do the best I can next year, but it’s definitely not going to be easy. He’s very experienced and an amazing driver. But it’s definitely good to hear that.”

Do you think Verstappen or Leclerc will be genuine title contenders in 2019? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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