'Feared' Verstappen ready to take on Hamilton and Vettel

'Feared' Verstappen ready to take on Hamilton and Vettel

This week, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner declared that Verstappen is the driver that five time world champion Lewis Hamilton now "fears" the most.

Verstappen, who had an error-strewn start to last season, eventually won two races - in Austria and Mexico - and finished only two points behind third-placed Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton, 34, won 11 races for Mercedes on his way to the title while four-time world champion Vettel, 31, was runner-up having claimed five.

His maturity was on display during the second half of the 2018 season, when he was the second highest point scorer on the grid, only behind Lewis Hamilton.

"I do not think we can immediately compete with Ferrari and Mercedes in terms of power, but Honda is doing everything it can to get there as fast as possible", said Verstappen. I think it's there now from both sides - the team and the engine supplier.

Verstappen was the sport's youngest driver when he debuted with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso as a 17-year-old and the youngest victor at 18 at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. "We've seen in the past year that depending on the circuit, those penalties can have minimal consequences".

"He's just much more rounded through experience", the Briton continued.

Horner says he has grown in the past year and is "in a better place to deal with the challenges he faces".

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Verstappen hit the headlines after Brazil, when he was ordered to do two days' public service for shoving French driver Esteban Ocon after the collision.

He added: "He came back and went, "Crikey, these guys have got hard decisions to make".

"I think we've had a really collaborative approach and open approach with Honda", said the team boss.

Red Bull will reveal their new auto for the 2019 F1 season on February 13th, the team has confirmed.

The V6 turbo hybrid era brought about the eventual parting of ways, and Horner felt that for the past three seasons, Red Bull had "effectively been paying for a first-class ticket" yet they got "an economy seat" in return.

While relations between Red Bull and previous engine partner Renault collapsed into acrimony, Horner has faith that the relationship with Honda will not play out in a similar way.

"We will try to win as many races as possible", said Verstappen.

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