In Brief

F1: Hamilton and Vettel back Verstappen for 2019 title bid

Red Bull driver is expected to challenge next season

The 2018 Formula 1 championship was a straight shoot-out between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel but the title rivals believe Max Verstappen can provide further competition next year.

After his victory in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend, Mercedes driver Hamilton finished the 2018 campaign as champion on 408 points - 88 clear of Ferrari’s Vettel.

Red Bull star Verstappen, 21, finished fourth in the standings but had a number of impressive drives in the latter part of the season, including the win in Mexico in October.

In 2019 Red Bull will have Honda as their new engine provider and if the partnership succeeds then Verstappen could find himself challenging for honours.

Five-time world champion Hamilton told Autosport: “Max has been driving very well throughout the year and has shown his consistency and has been up here many, many times with us.

“So, if his team does the job and delivers a platform with which he can compete even closer with us, then of course he’ll be in the fight.”

Ferrari’s Vettel, a four-time world champion, added: “On the track, I don’t think he needs any advice. I think he’s got all the ingredients.

“There’s a couple of guys out there who have these qualities and Max is certainly one of them.”

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