Jun.1 (GMM/Inautonews.com) F1 drivers are now taking the world of prototype sports cars seriously.

That is the claim of Romain Dumas, a French driver who races for Porsche in the increasingly high-profile world endurance championship (WEC).

WEC’s profile has been lifted even more in recent times by Dumas’ Porsche teammates: famous ex-F1 driver Mark Webber, and current Force India star Nico Hulkenberg.

Dumas, 37, told Russia’s Championat that F1 drivers are increasingly looking towards Le Mans, perhaps due to the drop in speed of their grand prix machines.

“I think all the formula one drivers are now looking to the WEC,” he said, “because our cars are really fast.

“I recently spoke with Lewis Hamilton in Cannes, and the first thing he said to me was ‘Oh, your cars are so fast!”

As for German Hulkenberg splitting his time between F1 and Porsche this year, Dumas added: “I think at first he thought it (sports cars) would be easier than formula one.

“But now he sees that it is serious business.”

As for whether other F1 drivers should think about following Hulkenberg’s lead, Dumas answered: “I think if you’re a good enough driver, you can adapt fairly easily.”

He is particularly excited about the F1 debut this year of teenager Max Verstappen.

“You could say a 17-year-old in F1 is crazy,” said Dumas, “but you have to pay tribute to Max as he is performing really well.

“To be second fastest in practice just as he learned the track … he has a huge talent. Perhaps the most talented driver we’ve seen come in for 20 years,” he added.

“For me, this is the future of formula one — it will be interesting to see him when he’s 25!”