Lewis Hamilton fighting to keep up with F1's 'wave of young talent'
"I'm battling as hard as I can to stay in the mix," says Hamilton after epic Brazilian GP finishes with F1's youngest-ever podium
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 18/11/19 6:15pm
Lewis Hamilton believes Sunday's enthralling Brazilian GP showcased the potential of F1's "wave of young talent" - and the six-time champion says he's "battling as hard as I can" to keep up with the likes of Max Verstappen.
The Interlagos epic started with intense wheel-to-wheel scraps between Hamilton and Verstappen before two late Safety Cars led to more drama, with Hamilton eventually colliding with Alex Albon and racing to the line with Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly for second place.
Hamilton took full responsibility for his clash with Albon, which resulted in a five-second penalty and demoted him to seventh.
"It was a great race," Hamilton told Sky F1. "I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a little bit upset at the end as I never want to collide with anyone but of course I was taking risks.
"I gave absolutely everything and more, I pushed so hard. We didn't have a lot of pace and honestly I think we went faster than we should have been. The Red Bulls truly deserve the win, they did a better job."
Following Hamilton's penalty, the podium was eventually filled by superb race winner Verstappen, 22, Gasly, 23, and McLaren's Carlos Sainz, 25 - making it the youngest top-three in F1's history (beating Italy 2008).
Hamilton, the second-oldest driver on the grid, turns 35 in January but insists he's excited for more battles with F1's "future".
"It's inevitable that the youngsters are going to come through," he said. "There's often a wave of young talent that manages to make its way through to Formula 1 and I think Formula 1's got a lot of new young blood with a lot of potential and they really are the future of the sport.
"Whilst [my] number shows a little bit higher, I feel like I'm able to still kick it with these guys and so I'm excited for the future racing with these guys and if we can get these teams to be closer then we're going to see more awesome battles like today and I think that would be great."
Hamilton added: "I think it was a great race and it's great again to see the youngsters coming and driving so well.
"I'm battling as hard as can to stay in the mix."
Hamilton's praise for Albon and Gasly
Hamilton has frequently described as Verstappen as a worthy title rival, and is predicting more battles with the Red Bull star in 2020, but after Sunday's race the Englishman reserved special praise for Albon and Gasly.
Albon, 23, has enjoyed a sparkling rookie season, which has included a mid-season step-up from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, and was on course for his first podium before the shunt with Hamilton.
"I never like colliding with other drivers," said Hamilton. "Alex has been driving fantastically well, it's not easy to be a team-mate for sure, of a well-experienced driver like Max but he's been doing great and I can assure you I know exactly how he feels right now. And I can assure you, it's not intentional, that's why I went to apologise to him."
After that collision, Hamilton raced to the line with Gasly, who outpaced the Mercedes by 0.062s. It was Gasly's best finish of his career, coming just three months after he was replaced at Red Bull by Albon.
"It's really awesome to see, especially through the experience and journey he's gone through from being in one team then to the next," Hamilton stated. "To come through is really awesome".
He continued: "He did a fantastic job. He put the car in the right place in every section of the track, was very fair and didn't make any mistakes. So, hat off to him. He did a fantastic job.
"The Honda's obviously made some big steps and it's great to see another manufacturer as strong as they are now. It means that hopefully next year we're going to have a serious three-way, four-way battle and that's great for Formula 1."