Max Verstappen outlines requirement to make Lewis Hamilton ‘dangerous’

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April

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Max Verstappen has admitted Lewis Hamilton can “fight for the title” if Mercedes give him a competitive car in 2023. The Dutchman praised Hamilton for being “one of the greatest drivers” and could return to a title battle if the Silver Arrows solved their issues.

The world champion made the admission when asked if he thought Hamilton was still a “dangerous threat” ahead of the new season. He said: “Of course he is. He’s one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport.

“If he has the car to do it, he can fight for the title again. It’s the same for George, for Charles, it’s the same for Lando. If you give them a car that’s capable of winning a championship, they can.”

Hamilton and Verstappen enjoyed a titanic battle for the championship in 2021 with the Dutchman coming out on top after a controversial final race of the season. However, seven-time champion Hamilton was unable to challenge at the sharp end after Mercedes struggled with their new package.

The German marquee had porpoising issues early on and then lacked pace with Red Bull in the second half of the season. The team finally appeared back to their best after new upgrades at the United States Grand Prix with George Russell picking up the team’s only win of the season.

However, Verstappen seemed to suggest that Hamilton would be the biggest threat to him securing a third consecutive crown in 2023. Russell and Norris have never faced a title challenge while Leclerc crumbled under pressure at times last season.

Ferrari lost the title due to reliability issues and strategy mistakes but Leclerc made two key issues at the Emilia Romagna and French Grands Prix. Verstappen added: “It’s also about when you have the car then the pressure comes,” he continued. “You can’t afford mistakes, or at least you can’t afford big mistakes.

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“That’s a little bit of a different pressure you have but I’m confident that once these guys get into a role like that, it’s all possible. They all have the talent to do so.” Hamilton recently suggested he wondered if Verstappen had a “problem” with him due to the pair’s bitter on-track rivalry.

The Mercedes star explained: “​​People like to talk about there being problems between Max and me. I respect him. He is a lot younger, so maybe he has a problem with me. But I am not sure about that and I actually assume not. Although I can’t speak for him.”

However, Verstappen denied having any issues with the Briton, stressing he “had a laugh” with everyone at a dinner party ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi.

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