Nico Rosberg has claimed that Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen has been the best driver in the competition for most of this year.

Lewis Hamilton has already won his fifth title and is 149 points ahead of the Dutchman ahead of the final race of the season.

But 2016 champion Rosberg claims Verstappen has been a cut above the Brit for much of the year.

“He showed he learnt from those mistakes at the beginning of the season, the speed was always there,” he said.

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“In the second half, he’s put it all together and maybe he’s been even the best driver out there.

“He’s done a phenomenal job, the car has improved as well so the package is better. It’s been really fun to watch.”

Rosberg now thinks Verstappen is poised to mount a world title charge in 2019.

He added: “It takes a while to learn unless you’re Lewis Hamilton. He’s been growing a lot, he’s just a little on the edge too much all the time.

“He has to reel that bit a little bit, he’s understood that. If he’s got the car next year, he can be a contender for the championship.”