Verstappen tipped for the top

02 March 2018 16:08:26 EST

Lewis Hamilton says that Max Verstappen has the potential to become a world champion and expects a threat from him this coming F1 season.

Hamilton is the current drivers' champion and has won the title four times in total. However, many are tipping Red Bull's Verstappen as one for the future.

He's got a long time ahead of him. He's already had a good few seasons under his belt.

Lewis Hamilton

The Dutch driver is only 20 but is now entering his fourth season in Formula One and Hamilton expects him to challenge for the top spot in the years to come.

Speaking during pre-season testing in Barcelona, Hamilton said: "We've seen the way he drives and he's got great potential as a driver. He's in a great team and he's in the perfect place to continue growing.

"He's got a long time ahead of him. He's already had a good few seasons under his belt - I still hadn't even had my first season under my belt at 21, so he's already further ahead than me and a lot of the drivers."

Hamilton and Mercedes main challenge last season came from Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel providing the greater threat.

Red Bull had Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and Verstappen sixth with the Dutchman winning two races last year, in Malaysia and Mexico.

Hamilton is 1/6 to win the drivers' title again this year with Verstappen 2000/1 and Vettel priced at 7/2.

Hamilton also said he expects a tougher challenge next season from his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who did win three races in his first season with the team.

"Last year it was difficult for him, he was in a new team, learning new ways and new controls," Hamilton added. "Now he's got through that learning process and is going to hit the ground running so there are no more excuses, for sure."

The 2018 season begins in Melbourne, the Australian Grand Prix taking place on 25th March.

Mercedes is 1/4 to be the winning constructor this year with Red Bull at 200/1.

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