Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton expects a strong title challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during 2018.
Reigning world champion Hamilton is likely to be the man to beat once again next year after he claimed his fourth title by a comfortable 46 points during 2017.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was Hamilton’s main title rival throughout the season but the 32-year-old is expecting further challengers during 2018, not least from the highly-rated Verstappen who claimed two race victories during the closing months of 2017.
“He can be a title contender,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“His abilities at the core are fantastic and we’ve all seen that come to light with the great car he’s racing in and the great team he’s racing in.”
Hamilton is also hoping for an improvement from former team McLaren during 2018 after the British outfit struggled for consistency over recent seasons – finishing ninth in the Constructors’ Championship last term.
“I’m hoping McLaren with the new engine on board can hopefully rise from the drought and come back into a positive light and be the great team they are,” the Brit added.
Hamilton is priced at 2.20 to claim World Championship glory for a fifth time during 2018 while Mercedes are available at 1.70 to be crowned Constructors’ Championship winners.
The 2018 Formula 1 season starts with the Australian Grand Prix at the end of March.