Max Verstappen is capable enough to join the elite list of Formula 1 world champions, reckons his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen shunned his critics when he made his debut at a tender age of 17, immediately impressing with his blistering pace and strong racecraft.
After just over a season at the top echelon of motorsport, the Dutch driver was promoted to the senior Red Bull outfit as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat.
Ricciardo says he never underestimated Verstappen’s talent, having closely followed his performances at Toro Rosso.
"I expected a challenge," Ricciardo told Motorsport-Total.com magazine. "I knew that Red Bull hadn't put him into the car just to cause a media circus. I knew that they have previously analysed his abilities extensively at Toro Rosso."
"I knew that he is fast, because Carlos is fast. I've known him a few years more than Max and they had a close fight," he pointed out. "These kids learn incredibly fast. Max is a potential champion of the future."
Ricciardo expects Red Bull to pose a stronger challenge to Mercedes next season, when a major rule change is expected to disturb the status quo.
"I believe that we have 2017 world champion-winning car and I hope that this will be our next step.
"I am convinced that Red Bull will be the strongest challenger to Mercedes in the coming season and will compete for the title. The rule changes should we zoom bring you closer to them. Our people and resources will help us.
"That motivates especially people like Adrian Newey. If his work sorts out the aerodynamics, that's encouraging . They are making progress and always want more. This is a virtuous circle."
by Rachit Thukral