'Verstappen has Hamilton's consistency and can be 2019 champion'
Max Verstappen is now "ready to be world champion", having developed the kind of consistency that has aided Lewis Hamilton in his five successive campaigns. That is the view of former Formula 1 racer Karun Chandhok, who expects Verstappen to be a contender in 2019, provided Honda can supply Red Bull with a capable power unit.
Verstappen recovered after an error-strewn start to 2018 to finish the season strongly, with only Hamilton in better form than him by the time the year came to a close.
The Dutchman has five grand prix victories to his name, but is yet to have made a serious impression on a title race, with Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel having competed largely against each other for the past two years.
However, former HRT and Lotus driver Chandhok believes that number could swell to at least three in 2019.
"I think Max has now matured enough and he's ready to be world champion," Chandhok said in an appearance at Autosport International.
"He's like Lewis was in 2008, he's ready to be fighting for the world championship and put together a season-long campaign.
"It's whether Honda can deliver for Red Bull."
Honda made progress with Toro Rosso in 2018 and Red Bull believe the Japanese marque has already surpassed former partner Renault heading into the new season.
"There were signs of Honda starting to get it together if you look at the back end of last year, they introduced an engine upgrade for Toro Rosso in Suzuka that really seemed to make a step forward," Chandhok added.
"We saw more evidence about it in Austin and know Red Bull are very optimistic about it. If they can deliver I think that's great for F1.
If we can have Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, potentially six cars fighting it out, that's exactly what we all want to see.
"F1 needs Honda to be successful because then it means Red Bull will be successful and we'll have three teams competing at the front. That's really important."
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