Lewis Hamilton warned Max Verstappen ‘has grown’ as star copies world champion’s tactic

Lewis Hamilton compared to Schumacher by David Coulthard

Lewis Hamilton has been warned Max Verstappen ‘has grown’ ahead of the 2021 Formula One season. The Brit is yet to sign a new Mercedes contract but Express Sport understands they’re confident over an extension nonetheless. And, should he stay with the Silver Arrows, then Verstappen could be his closest rival when it comes to scooping an eighth F1 Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton was terrific in 2020, blitzing all other Formula One drivers to win the title for a seventh time.

That means he’s now etched his name into history, drawing level with Ferrari icon Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton was simply too good for other drivers on the F1 roster, finishing way ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen as he cruised to glory.

But Ziggo Sport’s Jack Plooij, speaking to Motorsport.com, believes the latter ‘has grown’ and could pose strong competition going forward.

“He’s always working on what needs to be improved,” he said.

“Over the onboard radio you can hear him say: ‘No, we’re not going to do it like this’.

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“What Lewis Hamilton has been doing all year, you can now hear Max doing it for the first time.

“I loved that he said: ‘We shouldn’t look at Mercedes, we’re going to drive our own race’. This shows how he’s grown.”

Verstappen, while only 23, has been around F1 for a while.

He made his first appearance in the sport back in 2015, finishing 12th in the standings, before then managing a top-five finish the following year.

In 2017 he finished fifth, before then climbing two places in 2018.

And he’s since managed back-to-back top three finishes, though admittedly failed in his quest to dislodge Hamilton at the top of the standings.

Whether he can threaten the 36-year-old’s chances of more F1 success remains to be seen – but he’s confident of establishing dominance over team-mate Sergio Perez next season.

“In the end I beat everyone, and that’s good,” Verstappen told Ziggo Sport. “As my father always says, you have to destroy your teammate.”

He then added: “Of course you have to be faster than your teammate.

“I know that Sergio is aiming for the same.

“I think that’s good, because it’s the only way to bring the team forward with both cars, as was the case at Red Bull with Daniel (Ricciardo).”

Perez outlined his intentions to fight at the front of the grid with Verstappen upon the confirmation of his signing last month.

“I am incredibly grateful to Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to race for Red Bull Racing in 2021,” he said in a statement published on the company’s website.

“The chance to race for a championship contending team is something I have been hoping for since I joined Formula One and it will be a proud moment to step onto the grid in Red Bull colours alongside Max.

“You can be sure that I will give next season my full focus.

“The team has the same winning mentality as me and I know I am here to perform and help the team fight for another title.”

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