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Max Verstappen on F1 2020 title: Lewis Hamilton 'good, but not God'

Verstappen on Hamilton: "He is definitely one of the best out there. He is not God, maybe God is with him, but he is not God."

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Speaking to Sky F1's Natalie Pinkham, Max Verstappen has urged Red Bull to "step up" and challenge Mercedes this season.

Max Verstappen says he is targeting Lewis Hamilton's crown in 2020, describing Formula 1's six-time world champion as "good, but not God".

Hamilton, driving for a Mercedes team that have enjoyed an unparalleled spell of dominance in the sport, has claimed five of the six last titles and is looking to equal Michael Schumacher's records this season - when his main challenger could well be Verstappen, Red Bull's 22-year-old star.

Verstappen, who already has eight career wins, was arguably as consistent a performer as Hamilton in 2019, but didn't quite have the car to battle for the championship, with Red Bull in their first year with Honda power.

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The former world champions made significant gains towards the end of the season, however, and Verstappen has now urged them to "step up" to fight Mercedes at every race in 2020.

"We'll try to do better this year of course, we want to fight for the title," Verstappen told Sky Sports F1's Natalie Pinkham at a Red Bull event in London.

"Last year, at some rounds we couldn't really mount a fight - but you need to collect points as much as you can. I hope this year onwards we are fighting for a podium at least, and the worst-case scenario is third.

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"As a team we are targeting [the title], we of course want to fight for the title and we want to do well. Time will tell and it is difficult to say, but we are doing everything we can to try and step up."

Red Bull believe F1 2020 will serve up a three-way fight between themselves, Mercedes and Ferrari - and Verstappen will hope to have a title-challenging package for the first time in his career.

The Dutchman has consistently claimed that he could beat Hamilton if the pair had equal machinery, and reiterated that view ahead of the new campaign.

"Of course, it is very car-dependent in Formula 1," Verstappen was quoted as telling PA Media. "Lewis is very good. He is definitely one of the best out there. He is not God, maybe God is with him, but he is not God.

"When you can put the pressure on it is a lot harder for the guy in the lead. If he never really has pressure, he can drive at 97 or 98 per cent and then you never make mistakes.

"If we start the season within two tenths (of Mercedes), we can mount the pressure. I am looking forward to when we get that fight and if we are really close I am pretty sure we can do better."

Verstappen has signed a new deal until 2023 with Red Bull - which he believes will stop speculation about his long-term future.

"I feel good," he added to Sky F1. "I think it was the right decision to stay and for everyone it was better.

"It takes any question mark away, no one is asking anymore about those kind of things so you just go into the season fully motivated and we know also in the coming years we are working together. It's just a great thing."

The first confirmed car launch for 2020 is Ferrari's on February 11, before pre-season testing starts on February 19. The season-opening race in Australia is on March 15, with all 22 races live on Sky Sports F1

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