Max Verstappen has said that he aims to keep Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes under pressure throughout 2021, and that the British driver hasn't had a proper title rival for years.
Verstappen, who now leads the Drivers' Championship following his Monaco victory, appeared to discount the title challenges of Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel in 2017 and 2018, and said it's been a while since Hamilton felt properly under pressure.
"I think it's nonsense," Verstappen told La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked whether he is ready for the mental battle with Hamilton.
"I am quite strong, mentally, to know what I have to do to win. Also, Hamilton has never had to fight for the title in recent years. Also, with Vettel, it was not a real title fight anyway.
"People say what they want to say. I know I have to be fast and I am just waiting for the opportunity to be able to fight for the title. As a team, we have to keep Mercedes under pressure when we want them to start making mistakes."
The last championship battle that went down to the final race was in 2016, when Hamilton had to fight Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the championship, which was ultimately decided in Rosberg's favour.
"Lewis has almost always beaten his teammate, that's why we agree that he is one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1," Verstappen explained.
"But Mercedes has been so dominant in recent years that he has had no rivals outside his own team. That happened even in the golden days of Ferrari. I hope this will be one of those rare championships where the battle will last until the end of the season. We can win the title with Red Bull and for that I race."