03:27 - Source: CNN
Christian Horner on Verstappen and 2018

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Max Verstappen can challenge for the F1 title, according to Christian Horner

Lewis Hamilton has wrapped up the 2017 championship with two races left

CNN  — 

Lewis Hamilton may have already wrapped up this year’s Formula One title but Max Verstappen can challenge the champion next season.

That’s the view of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who has presided over the 20-year-old’s rapid rise to the top of the sport.

But Horner says Verstappen, who already has three grand prix wins to his name, needs to be given a good enough car if he to fulfill his “exciting talent.”

“Max’s talent is obvious,” Horner told CNN’s Amanda Davies at Interlagos ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“He is capable of challenging for the championship but we’ve got to be able to give him the tools and the car to be able to do that and that involves all elements.

“We’ve done it before and our aim is to do it again. We rely on third parties as well but I think we’re going in the right direction.”

Max Verstappen is the form driver right now (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Winning Formula

After a difficult start to the 2017 season which saw him retire seven times in the opening 14 races, Verstappen has struck a rich vein of form since the start of October, which has yielded two victories in Malaysia and Mexico.

He’s racked up 80 points in the last four races which is more than any other driver, even the champion Hamilton.

Verstappen competed for half a season in F1 before getting his road driver's licence (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

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Horner’s Red Bull won four consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ titles with Sebastian Vettel between 2010 and 2013 but since then have been replaced by Mercedes as Formula One’s dominant force.

They are confident that Verstappen, whose father Jos started 106 Formula One races, is the man to lead them back to glory.

Glory days - Horner and Sebastian Vettel embrace at 2010 Monaco Grand Prix (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Record breaker

The Belgian-Dutch driver only turned 20 at the end of September and already has three career victories under his belt – he holds the records for the first, second and third youngest driver to ever win a grand prix ahead of Vettel, who now drives for Ferrari.

If he qualifies fastest in Brazil this weekend, Verstappen will replace Vettel as the youngest pole sitter in F1 history as well.

Verstappen has claimed more points in last four races than any other driver (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Verstappen was second fastest in qualifying for the last race in Mexico and he will be relishing the chance to go one better at the Interlagos track where he produced an incredible third-placed finish in the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix.

In a rain-hit race, he made up a staggering 11 places in the last 16 laps to finish on the podium – a performance his boss at the time described as one of the best drives he’d ever seen.

New contract

“Max is working really hard, he’s enormously skilled, he’s a great racer, very determined and it’s exciting to think what he’s going to be capable of,” said Horner who was delighted to see Verstappen sign a new contract in October which keeps him at Red Bull for at least the next three seasons.

Verstappen has been with Red Bull since he was 15 years old (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

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“It was important for us to deal with that speculation. It was a distraction for the driver, it’s a distraction for the team and obviously our partners.

“Having invested in Max from a very early age, we were very keen to secure him until 2020 which is what we’ve done and obviously we can now focus on going racing and building the best race cars we can.”