Max Verstappen snubs Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz

Max Verstappen won the 2022 drivers’ championship with multiple races to spare, such was his and Red Bull’s dominance.

The major regulation changes that came into effect at the start of last season proved a difficult nut to crack for a number of teams, with Mercedes especially struggling to find their peak performance.

Red Bull on the other hand dominated, quickly overcoming their reliability woes that saw Max Verstappen retire in Bahrain and Australia to dominate the rest of the season.

While Charles Leclerc was able to challenge the Dutchman over the course of many race weekends, reliability issues and strategic mistakes saw the Ferrari driver miss out on a number of attainable race wins.

Heading into the 2023 season, Verstappen has admitted that such a dominant year, which saw him win a record breaking 15 races, will be difficult to repeat.

READ: Porsche rumours resurface after unusual Red Bull sighting

Mercedes and Ferrari are expected to improve massively, having now had a full year to evaluate what works and what does not work under the regulations.

Verstappen has now revealed which four drivers he believes can challenge him this season, including one surprise name.

“Of course he is,” he told Sky Sports when asked if Lewis Hamilton is one of the drivers capable to challenging him this season.

“He’s been one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport so of course, if he has the car he can fight for the title again. 

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“But that’s the same for George [Russell], the same for Charles [Leclerc] and the same for Lando [Norris].

“If you gave them a car which is capable of winning the championship then they can. It’s also about when you have the car, then the pressure comes and you can’t afford mistakes – that’s a different pressure you have.

“But once the guys get into a roll then it’s all possible. They all have the talent to do so.”

READ: Frederic Vasseur denies Charles Leclerc claim as Mercedes express interest

With many teams expected to sandbag during pre-season testing, fans may have to wait until the season opener in Bahrain until they can get a true idea of which teams will be in the title race this year.

Leclerc, Russell and Hamilton look to be reasonable shouts for the title, while Norris provides the more outside the box shout from Verstappen.

While McLaren hope to be challenging for the title within the next few seasons, team CEO Zak Brown has admitted that it could take until 2025 for a title charge to be realistic.