Nico Rosberg believes that Max Verstappen has an advantage in the Red Bull Formula 1 team in that "everyone sees him as the number one" - lamenting he did not have this at Mercedes.
Rosberg was joined at Mercedes by Lewis Hamilton in 2013, with the team dominating over the three seasons spent together after the turbo hybrids were introduced in '14.
Their time as teammates was overshadowed by a breakdown in relations between them - and three collisions in Belgium 2014 and Spain and Austria 2016 before Hamilton tried to hold Rosberg up in the Abu Dhabi finale to snatch the title - claimed by the German.
Rosberg subsequently retired days later, as boss Toto Wolff admitted that having two drivers fighting at such a level was untenable going forward.
Rosberg is of the opinion that Verstappen now has things easier as he does not have to deal with a Hamilton-like figure in Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
Rosberg on Verstappen/Hamilton comparison
"The whole team had to maintain a neutral attitude between Lewis and I," Rosberg explained to La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
"There was a strange atmosphere within the team because it was clear that there was rivalry within our own garage.
"As a result, there was a spirit within the team without balance - and that made it difficult to get closer together.
"I was in isolation at the most important point of my career.
"It should be easier for Verstappen - because he is seen as the number one driver by everyone.
"There is a calmer atmosphere at Red Bull."
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Verstappen already one of the greats
Rosberg also stated his belief that Verstappen can already be ranked as one of the top five greatest drivers of all time - at just 25 years old.
"He has the fighting mentality just like Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna and he doesn't make mistakes anymore," he explained.
"No team-mate has been able to keep up with him and we are talking about Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez, who are not exactly bad drivers.
"Verstappen has blown my mind this year."
"He [had] a bad start to the season and Ferrari was superior at the time.
"He then went on to have a historic season with a [record-breaking] total of 15, victories, with relatively few pole positions (seven), often winning by moving forward.
"He will always be among the best five drivers.
"Certainly, he has won two world titles at the age of 25, and has already won more races than Fernando Alonso.
"He has enormous talent and is now complete."
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