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Max Verstappen at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen suggests this driver is a ‘potential’ world champion

The two-time reigning world champion may be arriving in Saudi Arabia late due to a "stomach illness", but Max Verstappen is still making headlines. Which fellow driver has he tipped to be a future Formula One world champion?

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Max Verstappen believes George Russell has the “potential” to be a Formula One world champion

George Russell working with his Mercedes team during pre-season testing
George Russell working with his Mercedes team during pre-season testing. (Image Credit: @GeorgeRussell63 on Twitter)

The build-up to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix starts today, but with a notable figure absent. Two-time world champion Max Verstappen is yet to arrive in Jeddah for the second race of the season. The Red Bull driver has been suffering from a “stomach illness.” However, the Dutch driver is expected to arrive in time for the first session, free practice one, on Friday.

All 19 other Formula One drivers will be at the track today, including Mercedes driver George Russell. The Brit, who is from the same generation as Verstappen, is tipped by the Dutch driver to become a future world champion.

Verstappen on Russell’s “potential” to become a world champion
Max Verstappen and George Russell were teammates for 2012 Winter Cup
Max Verstappen and George Russell were teammates for the 2012 Winter Cup. (Image Credit: @GeorgeRussell63 on Twitter)

During an interview with the Daily Mail, the Red Bull driver heaped praise on his fellow competitor. Verstappen recalls how he, Russell, Charles Leclerc, and Lando Norris all “grew up together.” He also reminisced on times they spent racing together in karting.

The world champion was very complimentary of Russell’s driving skills, saying:

“I raced against George a bit in karting, though he’s a year younger. You could see straight away he was good. It came naturally to him – he didn’t need a lot of laps to be quick. He could jump straight in and battle at the front.”

Verstappen even went on to say, “he [Russell] has the potential to be a world champion.” The Dutch driver also hopes to spend more time with the British driver, who has recently moved to Monaco where Verstappen also lives.

Of course, the skill of the driver is only part of the package needed to make a world champion. Mercedes have started the 2023 season on the back foot, with Team Principal Toto Wolff calling the Bahrain Grand Prix “one of the worst days in racing.”

However, all may not be lost for the Silver Arrows. Following the season opener, Wolff seemed to suggest that a radical new concept for the W14 is underway. And Russell is more than happy to “sacrifice” part of the 2023 season to ensure long-term success for his team.

Could we see Russell crowned as Formula One world champion in the not-too-distant future?

Feature Image Credit: @redbullracing on Twitter

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