Max Verstappen hopes to force Lewis Hamilton to try and find a new level in 2018 by challenging the world champion’s Formula 1 supremacy.
In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with Martin Brundle for Sky Sports F1’s Brazilian GP race show from 3pm, Verstappen responds to the complimentary comments Hamilton made about him after the Mercedes driver clinched his fourth world title in Mexico.
Sky F1’s Race-Day Brazilian GP schedule
“I’ve got that Max just sitting there waiting to take it,” said Hamilton of the challenges he will face to land a fifth title. “So I’ve got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him.”
Asked what he made of Hamilton’s comment, Verstappen told Sky F1: “I heard it. I hope he has to.
“At the moment he is the world champion, I’m still not in that position and I hope I can be next year. We need to wait and see how strong we can be as a team.”
It is a Red Bull team Verstappen recently committed to until the end of 2020, a clear demonstration of faith he has in the former champions’ abilities to regain past glories given Mercedes and Ferrari had been expected to battle it out for his services.
Ted Kravitz gives his thoughts on Saturday's qualifying session at the Brazilian Grand Prix
With the team recovering from a slow start to the season, Verstappen has won two of the last four races and is the only driver other than Hamilton to stand on the podium’s top step since the summer break.
Red Bull’s chiefs have publicly expressed their desire to make Verstapen the youngest F1 world champion in history and, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo yet to sign an extended deal beyond 2018, it has led to suggestions that the Dutchman is effectively becoming their ‘number one’ driver.
But asked by Brundle if he agreed with those who saw it that way, Verstappen replied: “I don’t feel like it. I feel like we have equal material, the team is working really hard on both sides.
“I don’t want to be a number one driver because you want to beat your team-mate in a normal way with the same material. At the end of the day that is more satisfying.”
Red Bull's Max Verstappen was voted driver of the day, and after this display in the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, you can see why
The interview took place on a rain-lashed Interlagos circuit, 12 months on from Verstappen’s stunning drive through the field to third place in similarly dire conditions at last year’s Brazilian GP. The then-teenager overtook 11 cars in the final 16 laps in a performance hailed as “one of the best drives I’ve seen in Formula 1” by Christian Horner, his team boss.
Don’t miss Martin Brundle’s full interview with Max Verstappen in Sky F1’s Brazilian GP build-up from 3pm on Sunday. The race, live only on Sky Sports, begins at 4pm with Verstappen starting fourth and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton first and last respectively. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!