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'Hamilton, Vettel fear Verstappen most'

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 06/02/2019 skysports.com
a group of people posing for the camera © Getty

Max Verstappen is the driver Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will fear the most in F1 2019, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has claimed.

Ahead of a season in which Verstappen and the newly-Honda powered Red Bull are eyeing a more consistent challenge to Mercedes and Ferrari, Horner reckons his driver has shown himself ready to take on the sport's established big two.

"Max, if you look at his performance in the second half of the [last] year, was the second highest points scorer to Lewis," Horner was quoted as saying by Reuters.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP looks on, on the drivers parade before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) © Getty ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP looks on, on the drivers parade before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

"I don't think he lacks anything that they have, if we can provide him the tools to do the job. I think he's probably the driver that they fear the most."

Although still only 21, Verstappen is already a five-time race winner and this year represents his fifth season in F1.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing pose for a photo during the Red Bull Racing Drivers Factory Visit at Red Bull Racing Factory on November 30, 2018 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) © Getty MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing pose for a photo during the Red Bull Racing Drivers Factory Visit at Red Bull Racing Factory on November 30, 2018 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Dutchman was the only driver to finish on the podium in the final five races of 2018, overtaking world champion Hamilton on track at some point of the final three rounds, and his team boss reckons Verstappen is more equipped to succeed than ever.

"He's just more worldly, more experienced, he's just in a better place to be able to deal with the pressures that are placed on him," added Horner.

All eyes on F1 launch week

Mercedes and Red Bull are launching their new 2019 cars on the same day next week, February 13, as the sport's teams give a first glimpse of how they have interpreted the new aerodynamic rules for this year.

Formula One F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 25, 2018  Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the race   REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed © Getty Formula One F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 25, 2018 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed Ferrari reveal their latest challenger two days later, on February 15.

Mercedes, F1's reigning five-time champions, are immediately conducting a shakedown of their new W10 at Silverstone and have tantalising hinted that the car could initially appear in a camouflage livery.

Red Bull first tested their 2015 car in a snazzy black and white camouflaged scheme in an attempt to make it harder for rival teams to get a look at its intricate designs before the first race.

Meanwhile, while Red Bull are expected to reveal their 2019 challenger via images online, Verstappen has already pulled the wraps off his all-new crash helmet design.


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