Verstappen 'ready to challenge Hamilton' in 2020 but needs 'suitable' Red Bull car

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Max Verstappen is now "ready to challenge Lewis Hamilton" for the Formula 1 title in 2020, Ross Brawn claims.

The Dutchman enjoyed his most successful season to date this year, clinching third in the Drivers' standings with the most wins of anyone not driving a Mercedes.

In the final three races, he provided the closest competition to the German manufacturer and now the F1 motorsport director is tipping Verstappen to take the next step.

“He is only just 22 years old and is no doubt in his most clinical form to date. He is ready to challenge Lewis Hamilton," Brawn commented in his post-race remarks in Abu Dhabi.

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"Max scored the first pole of his Formula 1 career in Hungary, a second in Brazil and has booked three victories, putting him at a total of eight.

“But more importantly, we saw him make fewer mistakes, which in the past was mainly due to his impatient character. Those moments of hothead have cost him a lot in previous seasons, but this year there were far fewer.

"Of course he needs a suitable car to do that and that was not the case at the start of this season," the Briton noted.

"The cooperation between Red Bull and Honda has taken several steps during the year. They are now starting to achieve results that indicate that they can compete for the world champion in 2020."

Next year is set to be a critical year for Verstappen, with his contract expiring at the Milton Keynes-based squad, but he is confident that Red Bull can deliver.

"Yeah, I think we do; also looking at the plans for next year," he said on if the foundations are in place to take the fight to Mercedes.

"Of course you still have to wait and see what the others have come up with, but of course we want to fight for the title. We're going to give it everything we have to be competitive from the start next year."

The competitiveness of Honda was always expected to be a big question heading into 2019 and on that, Max was satisfied.

"I think it's been very promising and I think also we had some good results," he stated.

"For me what was also important was the reliability and I think that has been very strong throughout the whole year. Also, the progression we've made with the engine itself, that has all been going very well but we always want more.

"We will never be satisfied with what we are doing. But yeah, it's been good. I think it is a good base for next year as well where I think we learned a lot throughout the whole year. I feel confident that we can have a positive start to next season."