Max Verstappen has been backed to build on his first Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship win by moving onto another level in his defence of that title.
Lewis Hamilton will be trying desperately to win back the crown that he lost, but the Dutchman has the chance to dominate the sport for years to come now that he has earned his place in the history books.
Verstappen ended several years of Hamilton dominance when he overtook the Briton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to become world champion for the first time.
Before that, Hamilton had been the title winner in each season since 2016, when he was beaten by his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton has declared that he is back in the hunt for what would be a record eighth world championship success this year,
and is one of several racers who might be in a position to give Verstappen a run for his money in the battle for supremacy over the course of the upcoming season.
Hamilton won four in a row with Mercedes before Verstappen ended that run last year, and had won in back-to-back seasons prior to being beaten by his German team-mate in 2016.Before the Briton’s dominant periods, Sebastian Vettel was the king of the F1 world.
He won the championship for the first time in 2010, and went on to take three more titles with Red Bull in the years that followed. So the German clearly knows a thing or two about how to defend a title.
It is far from easy to do, but Vettel believes Verstappen has the talent and the drive to be able to achieve that goal. Judging from his own experience,
“From what I remember, it is a boost,” the 34-year-old said when questioned by reporters on the subject. “It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and it is a great feeling to start the season as a world champion.
“The Aston Martin racer has been backed in that opinion by the fourth man on the grid this season who also has experience of winning world championships.
Fernando Alonso won the 2005 title with Renault, and successfully defended that crown the following year before a battle with Hamilton at McLaren in 2007 saw Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen swoop in to beat them both.
The Spaniard believes the fact Verstappen has already accomplished what he came into F1 to achieve means that there will be less pressure on the Red Bull ace going forward. “You start the season with less pressure because you have already accomplished one of your dreams,” the 40-year-old said.
“From now on, it is more fun and you go into the races knowing that you have already won the world championship once. Of course, you always try to fight for the second title, but if anything there will be less pressure on Max.”