LONDON (Reuters) – Max Verstappen believes he can thwart Lewis Hamilton's bid for the seventh Formula One title this season if Red Bull gives him the means to do the job.
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton before the REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed / File Photo race
The 22-year-old Dutchman won three races last year and finished third overall in the championship. He won't be impressed by any reputation – even though he may be the greatest driver of all time.
"Of course, Formula One is very car-related," Verstappen told reporters on Monday at a Red Bull team media event.
"Lewis is very good. He is definitely one of the best out there, but he is not God. Maybe God is with him, but he's not God. "
The 35-year-old Hamilton is chasing multiple records this season, including Michael Schumacher's 91 race wins and seven titles, and has won five of the last six championships with the dominant Mercedes.
"We want to challenge Mercedes in particular, and I think we can do it," said Verstappen, who signed a contract extension last month until the end of 2023 and has a new English trainer and physiotherapist for 2020.
He said the new contract had removed the hassle of being asked about his future all the time, and removed another possible distraction.
Verstappen suggested that Hamilton could become vulnerable if he came under constant pressure. The Brit had already highlighted Verstappen last year as someone to whom he had given more space due to his aggressive reputation.
"I'm really looking forward to it, everyone is excited and everyone is very motivated. We retired last year and were very competitive in the end," said the Dutch driver.
Team principal Christian Horner said Red Bull, which uses Honda engines, would benefit from stable regulations and wanted to transfer the 2019 lessons to Mercedes and Ferrari.
The new car will drive its first route behind closed doors at Silverstone on February 12th. Verstappen and his Thai team-mate Alexander Albon will start the pre-season tests in Barcelona on February 19.
"Honda did such a great job that every engine launch last year brought more power and more power, and we feel that we are now very, very close to Mercedes," said Horner, whose team finished third overall in 2019.
"So the focus is on the chassis side of the team. We feel better prepared this year than in the past five years."
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editor of Pritha Sarkar