sport news Is Max Verstappen ready to lead F1 once Lewis Hamilton retires?

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It is becoming an annual F1 tradition to see Lewis Hamilton win the world championship before the sport meanders into a few meaningless races to see out the season.

The Brit won his fifth title in just six years at the United States with two races remaining, effectively making them dead rubbers.

But there may be signs that the new wave are making a challenge for Hamilton's throne heading into 2020 already following a thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen underlined his credentials with an excellent win at the Brazilian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen underlined his credentials with an excellent win at the Brazilian Grand Prix

The Dutchman (front second right) has already won three grands prix this term and having passed Lewis Hamilton twice to win in Brazil is the hottest property in Formula One

The Dutchman (front second right) has already won three grands prix this term and having passed Lewis Hamilton twice to win in Brazil is the hottest property in Formula One

Max Verstappen stunned Lewis Hamilton by passing him twice on the track to take his eighth grand prix victory and arguably his best yet.

So is the Dutchman finally ready to make a permanent challenge for the F1 title? Sportsmail looks at the key factors on whether arguably the sport's hottest property is now ready to succeed Hamilton.

What was so special about Verstappen's win in Brazil? He has beaten Hamilton in a straight fight before.

That is true, but how many times has a driver overtaken Hamilton twice on the race track for the lead and with such ease too? The Dutchman's second pass under fresher tyres around the outside of turn one was perhaps more expected, yet still impressive.

But the race looked close to lost when he came out of the pitlane earlier behind Hamilton, only to immediately catch up and pass him less than a lap later. 

Not many have the confidence to take a fight to Hamilton, but Verstappen relishes every opportunity he gets. 

Verstappen celebrates on the podium at Interlagos with Lewis Hamilton in the background

Verstappen celebrates on the podium at Interlagos with Lewis Hamilton in the background

Granted, but Verstappen tends to win the odd race or two in a season anyway, what makes this one significant? 

Verstappen never enters the race weekend as a favourite to win and while that was the case again at Interlagos he had his most dominant display to date. He was quickest in all three qualifying sessions to take just his second pole position before converting it into a race win.

The point is there are signs Red Bull might have narrowed the gap to Mercedes and could finally be in a position to offer Verstappen a championship challenging worthy car heading into 2020.

Verstappen made a superb pass around the outside of turn one to take the lead from Hamilton

Verstappen made a superb pass around the outside of turn one to take the lead from Hamilton

So are Mercedes now on the decline?

We are already in danger of thinking too far ahead. Sunday's race which saw Mercedes outgunned by Red Bull for pace should not be used as a stick to beat the six-time double champions with.

Team principal Toto Wolff was absent and the team have been looking to experiment their weekend set-ups in the final two races with both championships already sewn up.

Hamilton is entering what are perceived to be the latter years of his grand prix career

Hamilton is entering what are perceived to be the latter years of his grand prix career

Is age catching up with Hamilton?

Again, no obvious signs of that considering he has very recently won a sixth world championship. Motorsport tends to allow competitors to stay close to their best nearly throughout their 30s.

Hamilton is still only 34 and is younger than Michael Schumacher was when he crushed all those around him at 35 to lift his record seventh world title. Closer to home, Damon Hill was 36 when he won his world championship with Williams in 1996, while Nigel Mansell was 39 in 1992.

But it's hard to see Lewis improving now and with the likes of Verstappen, still just 22, getting better all the time that gap is sure to at least narrow soon enough.

Hamilton applauds Verstappen's win in Brazil but will still be confident of seeing off the Dutchman 13 years his junior heading into the 2020 season

Hamilton applauds Verstappen's win in Brazil but will still be confident of seeing off the Dutchman 13 years his junior heading into the 2020 season

HEAD TO HEAD: LEWIS VS MAX

Lewis Hamilton

F1 debut: Australia 2007 

Championships: 6

Race starts: 249

Race wins: 83

Podiums: 150

Pole positions: 87

Fastest laps: 46 

Max Verstappen

F1 debut: Australia 2015

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Championships: 0

Race starts: 101

Race wins: 8

Podiums: 30

Pole positions: 2

Fastest laps: 7

Is Verstappen mentally ready to challenge Hamilton in a world championship?

Since 2014 many have tried to beat Hamilton over

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