Max Verstappen sends obvious message to Lewis Hamilton over F1 title battle

Hamilton certain Red Bull's fate is sealed after what F1 rival Verstappen did

Max Verstappen has insisted Mercedes will be one of Red Bull’s closest competitors next season with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. The reigning F1 world champion won this year’s season at a stroll but is expecting a closer race in the new year.

Verstappen’s 2023 season was his best to date with an incredible 19 wins and 21 podium finishes. The driver earned 575 points thanks to his dominance on the track, 290 points clear of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The Dutch driver’s dominant campaign surpassed his previous record of 15 wins last season. And his points record far exceeds that of Sebastian Vettel’s impressive 155-point lead in 2013.

The win was Verstappen’s third in a row, suggesting that the 26-year-old is going from strength to strength and will continue to out perform his rivals for years to come. But in a surprising twist, Verstappen has instead suggested he could struggle next season thanks to Red Bull’s rivals.

“Running the same season will be almost impossible,” he told NOS. “Of course, we will try to develop our car further, but the other teams have learned a lot from us. I hope there won’t be more competition, but I expect there to be.

“Every weekend it was a different team that showed itself just as well. McLaren, for example, seemed to have it all sorted out for a while, but then had a dip again. They seem to know which way to go and there are good people working there.”

Mercedes aren’t the only team that Verstappen has admitted to being wary of next season. The Red Bull driver also pin pointed a threat from a further two teams that are expected to upset the pack.

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“It’s automatically going to be closer together,” Verstappen added when reflecting on the final races of the season. “You also saw it in qualifying this past season: it wasn’t always easy.”

While Verstappen’s comments suggest next season will be a tight affair, the Dutch driver will be eager to enjoy another successful year thanks to his incredible bonus payments for becoming world champion.

Following the final race, a report via Forbes revealed that the F1 star earned an incredible $70 million (£55m). The money was split with a base salary of $45 million (£35m) and a bonus of $25 million (£19m).

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