Sunday, 23 december 2018, 05:18 , by Matthew Scott
Max Verstappen says a host of Formula 1's top drivers could have emulated the recent feats of Lewis Hamilton if they had the Briton's all-conquering Mercedes car at their disposal. Hamilton has been crowned world champion in four of the last five seasons, while closing in on many statistical records set by the great Michael Schumacher in the process.
Only Schumacher stands ahead of Hamilton in terms of world titles (7 to 5) and grand prix victories (91 to 73) after a dominant run which has seen Hamilton win 51 of the 100 races to have taken place in the V6 Hybrid era to date.
Verstappen has made a huge impact on F1 since debuting in 2015, and switching to Red Bull a little over a year later, but the Dutchman has just five race wins to his name as Renault's power deficit has hampered Red Bull badly.
With Red Bull hoping a switch to Honda can bridge the gap, Verstappen suggested Hamilton might not have built such a sparkling CV if machinery had been equal in recent years.
2018 has been a fantastic year! Thank you @redbullracing, friends, family, partners and of course all fans for the great support all over the world ???? Merry Christmas and a sparkling new year! #KeepPushing pic.twitter.com/BqxJRkeexv— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) December 23, 2018
"When I see onboard images, I think Mercedes has not even gone full throttle in many races."
Mercedes made moves to try and sign Verstappen in 2017, having previously seen him sign to Red Bull's junior programme ahead of them.
The Dutchman says he would prefer not to team with the likes of Hamilton and Vettel at this stage of his career – suggesting he values the standing he holds within Red Bull currently.
"When I think of my own career, it is not convenient to sit next to Hamilton or Vettel right now. Although I would absolutely do it if I had no other choice.
"I believe that with Red Bull I can also become champion, as long as we have the right package together."