Four-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is relishing the prospect of Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso joining the fight for the title at the front of the field in 2018.
Hamilton saw off a tough challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to capture his fourth F1 crown in 2017, hitting some of the best form of his career as a result of the added pressure.
Red Bull showed signs of entering the battle at the front towards the end of the season as 20-year-old Max Verstappen took two dominant wins, beating Hamilton after a straight fight in Malaysia.
Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Hamilton said Verstappen had everything required to be a title contender in 2018 given his performances this year.
“Of course he can be a title contender. His driving at its core, his abilities are fantastic,” Hamilton said.
“We’ve all seen that come to light with the great car he’s racing in and the great team he’s racing in.
“He’s having great opportunities with some of the failures where he’s started at the back and had to wiggle his way through.
“That’s generally where you get a chance to shine.”
Hamilton is also eager to see former team McLaren return to the front of the field led by two-time champion Alonso, having spent the last three years toiling in the midfield amid struggles with engine parter Honda.
“I’m hoping McLaren with the new engine on board, hopefully, finally they can rise from the drought to have that other world champion in the mix,” Hamilton said.
“That’s probably the most exciting thing: myself, Sebastian and Fernando. That’s what’s at the top of my mind.”