Lewis Hamilton raises Max Verstappen concerns as contract hint dropped

Mercedes-AMG announce Project ONE with Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has hinted that he is confident he will be a Mercedes driver next year as he expects Max Verstappen to cause him more problems than he has over the past few seasons. The two F1 stars have been the leading contenders for the Drivers’ Championship, alongside Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes have won both world titles every season since 2014 and their dominance is expected to continue in 2021.

Their success has helped Hamilton to level with Michael Schumacher’s record seven world titles.

And he is set to surpass the legendary German next year – if he pens a new contract with the Silver Arrows.

Talks are currently ongoing between the two parties but they are yet to agree on a salary.

Red Bull are slowly closing the gap and showed glimpses of their potential this campaign with

Verstappen winning the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ahead of Bottas and Hamilton.

And Hamilton believes Verstappen may be a sterner opposition for his crown next year.

“We’ve obviously got a fight on our hands next year,” Hamilton said.

“Without a doubt, these guys are going to be strong, as this car [Verstappen] is driving now is next year’s car pretty much, and the same for us.

“I’m excited for that challenge, and that battle that we hopefully will get.”

Bottas has already signed a 12-month contract extension with Mercedes and he has vowed to come back stronger after the turn of the year.

“If we think about the big pictures, now in this team, being beaten by Red Bull at the last race of the season, for sure it motivates us even more to work hard over the winter for next year to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Bottas said.

Meanwhile, Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin said after the race in Abu Dhabi: “Fundamentally today, we didn’t have the best car.

“We need to look at whether we could have got more out of it, whether it was an issue with where we positioned it in terms of set-up or whether it’s something to do with this circuit that’s suiting the Red Bull.

“There’s a lot there that simply we don’t understand right, and that’s just going to sit on the job list of things for us to get stuck into over the next week or so.

“We didn’t have a difference in car pace, so in a way, it was lost yesterday, which was a close battle, but looking at it today, unless we had a car on pole, I think we would have struggled.”

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