FUTURE CHAMP: Stoffel Vandoorne will become a full-time F1 driver in 2018, but is already being tipped as a future champion. Image: AFP / Toshifumi Kitamura
Belgium - Formula 1 might be about to discover its next Max Verstappen-like sensation.
That is the claim of former F1 driver and three-time winner Thierry Boutsen, who raced in the 80s and 90s.
Belgian world champ
He admitted to the Belgian broadcaster Sporza that he is referring to Stoffel Vandoorne, his countryman who is set to make his full-time debut for McLaren in 2017.
Vandoorne, 24, is highly regarded and Boutsen thinks "He might even be a world champion. He's a top driver, one of the best.
READ: McLaren promotes Vandoorne to replace Button
"The (McLaren-Honda) car is still not good enough, but it will be much better next year. Maybe Stoffel can do the same as Verstappen did this year. In F1 things happen very quickly, so if he is ahead of Max a few times, we will not be talking about Max anymore," Boutsen insisted.
Boutsen was also asked about the title showdown between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton this weekend in Abu Dhabi, and whether Rosberg would be a worthy winner.
Boutsen answered: "Oh yes, absolutely. He has enough maturity and has demonstrated that he has the qualities of a world champion."
READ: Title-chasing Hamilton admits 'impossible odds' against him
However, Rosberg has also been criticised for arguably settling for second places lately as he protected his points lead, but Boutsen said: "Niki Lauda did it just like that - win a few races and then wait and stay calm.
"Nico's right but it's also a matter of his character, because you cannot compare Rosberg with Hamilton."