Max Verstappen insists that he has performance level within him to compete with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for race victories in the 2019 Formula 1 season, but admits he will only be able to do so if he has "the right equipment".
Red Bull enjoyed a positive pre-season, with testing in Barcelona showing that their change of engine provider from Renault to Honda is already paying dividends. Their improvement means that the team has been tipped to close the gap on Mercedes and Ferrari, with Verstappen also getting closer to Hamilton and Vettel.
The Dutchman reckons that this can happen if the car performs at a high level, and mentions Hamilton as an example of a young driver who was catapulted into a title race because of the package he was working with.
"Was Lewis already ready to fight for the title? I think he did not think so, but he was because of his extremely good car." Verstappen told Motorsport.com of Hamilton's debut season in which he competed alongside Fernando Alonso.
"You never know when you are ready, because the differences between F1 cars are so great. I am sure that I can compete with Lewis or Sebastian, but you must have the right equipment. "
Verstappen won two races in 2018 and also gained 11 podiums, and he thinks he can improve on this in 2019 as having a better car allows for the chance of mistakes to be minimised.
"If you have such a good car, you do not always have to go one hundred percent in every race or qualification. The mistakes are therefore much less common, " he said.
"Last year we literally fought every hundredth of a second to beat those with a better package. Then, of course, it happens faster that you are going to slide and make a spin. With a better car you yourself become a better and different driver, because you have to take less risk. "