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F1 Italian GP: Hamilton on Verstappen – ‘He’s quick, he’s learning’

"He's a quick, fast driver. He's learning. He's young - only 18 years old. Most of us when we were 18 years old were doing some silly s**t..."
Lewis Hamilton has come to the defence of Max Verstappen in the wake of criticism from rival F1 drivers about his aggressive driving style.

The Dutchman was criticised by both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for his defence tactics during the Belgian Grand Prix, with the pair set to discuss the matter with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting.

Nevertheless, with Verstappen saying he sees no reason to change what is already a race winning formula, world championship leader Hamilton says a learning curve should still be expected despite his rapid success.

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“He's a quick, fast driver. He's learning. He's young - only 18 years old. Most of us when we were 18 years old were doing some silly s**t, I'm pretty sure. This guy has a GP win under his belt and is an exceptional driver. That's all I see.”

Following a frustrating Belgian Grand Prix weekend characterised by three engine changes and a charge from 21st on the grid to third, Hamilton admits there is some relief coming to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix knowing he can focus solely on the driving again.

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“I guess perhaps subconsciously in Hungary I never knew if the engine was going to make it, but that's still a question today. You never know. You hope with fresh engines that you're in a good position, but all sorts of things happen.

“I had fresh engines early on in the season, so I'm not really in a different position except that I'm hopefully not at risk of any particular penalties and I can race. The engine's upgraded reliability so I should be in a good position and now I can hopefully just focus on getting my head down and get back to the way I was driving before the break.”

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18.09.2016 - Race, 2nd position Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner and 3rd position Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
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