In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport F1, Lewis Hamilton has analyzed Max Verstappen's potential as a talent on the grid and predicted his growth in the future. The Briton suggested that while his experience allowed him to handle mistakes in his career, the Dutchman was young and had a long way to go.
Comparing his own mistakes during his early days in the sport to Verstappen's, Hamilton told BBC Sport F1's Andrew Benson:
“I know that he's a super-fast guy, and he's going to get stronger and stronger as he matures over time. Which he will no doubt do. Look at myself when I was 24, 25. Jeez, the mistakes I was making back then. I had the speed but I was going through a lot of different experiences outside the car and also being in the limelight - the pressures of being at the front.”
While their teams have been embroiled in an intense battle on track with a slew of accusations and counter-accusations, Lewis Hamilton said there was no personal animosity with Verstappen off-track.
Despite their on-track clashes, there has been less of a verbal battle coloring their conversations off-track in comparison to the spats amongst their respective team bosses.
Highlighting the pressures of the ongoing championship duel, Lewis Hamilton described his experience in handling it, saying:
“For me, look, I'm 36. I've been doing this a long time so it's not the first time I've been faced with a driver that's been good and bad in certain ways, and I think I'm in just a much better position to be able to handle that, to deal with that. Particularly in the limelight and the pressures of the sport.”
While Lewis Hamilton's age and experience equips him with the tools to handle the pressures of an intense on-track battle, Verstappen's inexperience has often translated into an edgy style of racing. However, the Red Bull F1 driver has matured over the years, and his demeanor this season has been much calmer, with a measured approach in difficult situations.
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As the battle intensifies over the next two races, Lewis Hamilton's attempt at analyzing his rival's approach and mindset might help him avoid on-track clashes in the future.