Hamilton 'privileged' to witness Verstappen, Leclerc development as duo target further improvement

Formula 1® world champion Lewis Hamilton says he feels "privileged" to be the subject of a challenge from Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, yet the Red Bull and Ferrari men are aiming for better in 2020.

Hamilton won the final Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi, finishing the campaign 87 points clear of Mercedes team-mate and nearest contender Valtteri Bottas in the drivers' championship standings.

Yet Verstappen and Leclerc, both 22, joined Hamilton on the podium on Sunday and look to represent the greatest threat to his crown heading into next year.

The Briton, now a 250-race veteran, is relishing the test as he enjoys taking on the sport's top prospects.

"These guys, there's a lot of youngsters coming through," Hamilton said, referring to his two rivals.

"It's great to be in a period of time where there's lots of youngsters coming through, and I'm privileged to be here while they come through."

Verstappen finished the season third in the standings, 135 points back, with Leclerc fourth and a further 14 behind the Dutchman.

A true title challenge has not quite yet materialised for the more experienced Red Bull man, but he said: "To be P3 in the championship was a nice ending.

"We are all working hard, but it's good to take some time off and be with family and friends and come back stronger next year."

Leclerc pipped Ferrari colleague Sebastian Vettel in the table in his first year with the Scuderia.

He added: "I'm extremely happy about this year. I've learned a huge amount thanks to Seb.

"It's been a great year, a realisation of the dream since I was child to be with Ferrari and in Formula 1®, and it's up to me to get better and give them the success they deserve."

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