Lewis Hamilton resoundingly won the 2018 Formula 1 Grand Prix and is renowned as the best driver in the world right now. However, Red Bull have claimed that they wouldn’t consider obtaining his services at the expense of Max Verstappen according to chief Christian Horner.
The team principal of Red Bull has been impressed with the development of his young driver and believes - following a successful 2018 campaign – he can continue to improve this coming season.
Verstappen has already earned five Grand Prix victories and has been tipped to challenge five-time world champion Hamilton and Mercedes’ current dominance of the circuit after the constructors' switch to the more advanced Honda engines.
When asked if he would swap the two, Horner said “No - Max is the future,"
In fact, in an interview with the Daily Mail, Horner suggested that it will not be long before Verstappen seriously challenges the world’s number one.
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He said: “He is 21 years of age and he is evolving. Both he and Lewis are phenomenal drivers. Lewis is one of the best of all time. Max has won grands prix but is yet to compete for a championship.
“However, in terms of all-round ability, race craft and speed, Max is capable of going shoulder to shoulder with Lewis.”
In turn, Verstappen finished last season well and was the second-best points scorer in the last half of the season, second only to the champion Lewis Hamilton. Horner is hoping that this will provide the Dutchman with the confidence to improve this year.
“Max was top scorer behind Hamilton in the second half of last season, so that shows how well he was driving,” he said.
Horner also praised the passion of his young driver and hailed it as the reason for his fanbase.
He added: “Max was criticised in some quarters when he showed emotion after the race with Ocon. At least there was passion. People relate to that kind of emotion.
"That is why he has such a big following. We don't want vanilla characters. Lewis is a Marmite kind of guy. That is good.”
The 2019 season begins this weekend in Australia in what everyone hopes will be one of the most competitive F1 seasons in recent history.