Cape Town - Having had a brief taste of it in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton
says he is "looking forward" to going wheel-to-wheel with Max
Verstappen next season.
Hamilton battled Verstappen in the opening stint of Sunday's
Brazilian Grand Prix before an early pit stop meant he relinquished the lead.
Hamilton, though, was back up to P1 as the pit stops played
out only to be overtaken by Verstappen.
The Dutchman, on fresher tyres, shot past Hamilton and began
to build up an advantage only to be spun by Esteban Ocon.
Hamilton won the race, Verstappen had to settle for second.
"This year they've been incredibly strong and I can
only imagine next year, they're going to be even stronger," Hamilton told
"I think for the sport it will be great if Red Bull are
more in the battle with Ferrari and Mercedes and we welcome any more teams.
"Max is driving really well this year. He's such an
awesome, young talent. I'm looking forward to many races with him.
"At the weekend in Brazil, we had the engine problems
so I didn't feel I was really able to fight with him on track but I'm looking
forward to the day that happens."
And he's not the only member of the Mercedes team predicting
big things for Verstappen.
Speaking to Reuters after last Sunday's Brazilian Grand
Prix, motorsport boss Toto Wolff was asked about Verstappen's behaviour toward
Esteban Ocon after their clash cost him the win.
Wolff replied: "In a few years' time he may look back
at these images and wonder whether this was the right behaviour, but you cannot
rush this, because this is a learning process.
"You see that Max is a future champion, he is
incredibly talented and has speed, and when the raw edges are off, he is one
day a World Champion."