Many are expecting the 26-year-old to romp home to victory once again this year, but Hakkinen – who won the 1998 and 1999 drivers' championships with McLaren – is backing Piastri and Norris to make life difficult for the Red Bull star.
Hakkinen: Verstappen will feel the pressure this year
"I expect a lot from McLaren," he told German outlet BILD.
"After having a disastrous start to the season last year, they have developed very well and, above all, consistently.
"With Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, they probably have the strongest driver pairing next to Ferrari.
"Not yet!" Hakkinen joked when asked if Norris and Piastri were better than his pairing with David Coulthard from 1996 to 2001. "But both have the potential to become world champions.
"Piastri puts pressure on Norris. And Verstappen will also feel that this year."
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