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Hamilton will have to 'raise his game' to beat Verstappen in 2018!

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
© XPB 

Max Verstappen has laid down the gauntlet to newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton for 2018.

Hamilton said that he saw the Red Bull driver as major competition next season. He had been impressed by the young Dutch driver's domination of the Mexican Grand Prix.

"The challenge is going to be even bigger from Ferrari and Red Bull next year," insisted Hamilton. "Formula 1 doesn't sleep. It doesn't stand still. There is always someone there waiting to take my position.

"I've got Max sitting there waiting to take it," he added. "I've got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him and that motivates me.

Verstappen certainly concurred with that view.

"Well, he has to, absolutely," he told The Drive website. "That’s nothing bad against Lewis, but when you win three, four world titles, your sharpness kind of disappears.

"I think at one point if you have a real challenge again from someone, you have to raise your game.

"You’re not really used to fighting it out every single race for victories or podiums, which I’ve been doing for the last three years," he pointed out.

"I’ve never been in his position, so I’m really determined to get there. I’m really fired up to achieve that."

Verstappen felt that Mercedes' traditional edge in car performance was on the wane. He pointed to the impressive performance in pace from Red Bull since the summer break.

"A lot about it is the whole package," he explained. "Of course, he has been in the best car for three years now, so that helps a lot.

"That doesn’t take anything away from Lewis, because he’s a very talented driver. He’s naturally gifted. That’s the difference compared to his teammates, for example, that’s why he’s winning the championships. He’s better than everyone around him.

"Hopefully, next year we will have at least a similar package so I can take up the challenge, but we have to wait and see.

"It’s a bit difficult to say how good it will be right now," he said. "But I think we’ve learned our lesson this year - we need to perform better at the beginning of the season.

"We don’t even need a lot of days, just running time," he added. "We need to do laps to understand the car.

"In preseason this year, we were really far behind compared to Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of the laps we’d done. It’s very crucial information, so that’s what we have to try and change for next year."

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