The world champion also claimed that whilst Verstappen has the potential to be a champion in his own right this season, whether he win it or not is not down to himself.
The two men battled for the lead in Bahrain for the season’s curtain raiser with Hamilton coming out on top, and the Brit insisted that Verstappen’s future success is dependant on his own form.
Lewis Hamilton (right) has claimed that Sebastian Vettel (left) has been his toughest challenge
Max Verstappen finished second at the Bahrain Grand Prix behind world champion Hamilton
‘For me, with Seb, with Valtteri (Botas), you just want to be fighting the best drivers and be as close as possible and eek out more than your competitors to get the results. Hamilton said ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
‘Max doesn’t have the background that Seb has but he obviously has got the chance of being a future champion but whether that is now or later depends on the job that I do.
‘It is clear that Red Bull have started off really well with a great package and Max is driving well, too, so it is set up for a good season.
‘We don’t know what to expect with the different races coming up but it is going to be fun one way or the other.
Hamilton got his season off to the perfect start by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix
‘We have had multiple battles with Ferrari, with Seb when he was there and we just have to keep our heads down.
‘We love the challenge. It is exciting for all of us that we have such a challenge on our hands and it is not one to shy away from.’
Hamilton also insisted that his preparations for this weekend’s race have not been affected by a shift in schedule; to allow TV viewers to watch the funeral of Prince Philip.
He added: ‘I don’t see it being a problem. The Duke of Edinburgh was such a racing fan and it is so sad to hear of his passing.’