Fernando Alonso has admitted that Max Verstappen is the only driver against which he wouldn't want to compete in the same team at the moment.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Alonso said that the particular synergy of Verstappen with Red Bull would make the Dutch driver very difficult to beat, perhaps to a greater extent than Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
"At the moment, he's the only one that I will not be happy to maybe compete [with]," Alonso said.
"I respect Max a lot. At the moment, in the Red Bull environment with his team, with his experience there, I don't think that many drivers can join Red Bull and beat Max. If you took Max out of Red Bull, maybe you [would] have a better chance."
Alonso was teamed up with Hamilton at McLaren during the British driver's rookie season in 2007, but the 2005 and 2006 World Champion believes that Verstappen has now taken the mantle away from Hamilton to become the best driver in Formula 1.
"I think he is on top of the game at the moment, I consider him the best in the paddock right now," he said.
"His improvement was very noticeable in the first couple of years. He started already at a high level but, sometimes, making a few accidents here and there, maybe too much aggression in some of the movements and things like that.
"Now I think he reached a level of maturity that is very high and, with his natural speed, it becomes quite difficult to beat him for anyone. So I think he's the favourite for this year and probably for the years to come."
It's time for the latest episode of our new Formula 1 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discussing the fallout from a dramatic Italian Grand Prix weekend.