Max Verstappen is more than a match for Lewis Hamilton, according to former Mercedes vice president Norbert Haug.
The battle between the pair has been close so far this season, with only eight points currently separating them at the top of the drivers' standings. Haug might have a previous affiliation with Mercedes but admits that he has been incredibly impressed by Verstappen.
"I definitely think Max Verstappen is on a par," Haug told Sky Sports.
"For his age, he's damn far ahead and makes very few mistakes."
Haug is looking forward to seeing Hamilton and Verstappen battle again at the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix and believes that Red Bull will have the edge over Mercedes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
However, the German is predicting that Mercedes and Hamilton are the ones who will emerge as victors in the title fight by the end of the season.
Haug thinks that the Silver Arrows' strong strategic decisions as well as Hamilton's ability to win races that, according to Haug, "you can't win at all" will enable them to come out on top. Yet he is confident that Verstappen will do everything to stop this from happening.
As well as being impressed by Verstappen, another driver who has earned Haug's praise so far in 2021 is Mick Schumacher.
The German has so far outperformed his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin during his rookie year in F1, and Haug believes that Schumacher will benefit from learning his craft in a slower car.
"I don't think it's very bad at all to have the slowest car in the field," Haug said. "[It is] not a great joy, but for learning it is maybe even the quite right way
"He has done very little wrong. I think Mick will progress step by step. The gap to his teammate is already widening."