Max Verstappen welcomes support from Lewis Hamilton
Red Bull driver says Hamilton's comments show "he's a racer as well"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 06/09/16 2:05pm
Max Verstappen has welcomed calls from Lewis Hamilton for F1 to give him a "break" from criticism of his driving.
Debate over Verstappen's racing style dominated the build-up to last weekend's Italian GP with the 18-year-old receiving what was described as a "gentle warning" from FIA race director Charlie Whiting for his block on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at the previous race in Belgium.
Hamilton, who made his F1 debut aged 22 and won his first world title at the end of his second season, defended the sport's youngest-ever driver and race winner at Monza.
"Firstly, give the guy a break," said Hamilton. "He is 18 years old, and what the frickin' heck were any of us doing at 18?
"He has won a grand prix, and the pressure on his young shoulders is something most people will not be able to comprehend. He is young and he is learning. I don't know what I would have been like at 18, but I would have made lots of mistakes."
Asked for his reaction to Hamilton's comments, Verstappen told Sky Sports News HQ: "It's good. It shows that he is a racer as well."
Despite having to battle his way back through the field in Sunday's Italian GP after dropping from seventh to 11th on the first lap, Verstappen's race passed without controversy as he retrieved his starting position by the chequered flag.
Daniel Ricciardo, the Dutchman's Red Bull team-mate, said he didn't have a direct conversation with Verstappen over the incidents of Spa, but has backed the teenager to finesse his style with age.
"There was conversations within the team [after Spa] and they were obviously curious to know my point of view as well," Ricciardo told SSNHQ.
"On Max's side, what's good is that he's a racer and he wants to fight to the end. That's a good attribute to have.
"Obviously it's on the edge but that's probably just a bit of the age showing and this will come with maturity. I was nowhere near Formula 1 at that age, so he's already steps in front of pretty much all of us so I think it'll just come with time."
Don't miss the F1 Report for the analysis of the Italian GP. The Telegraph's Daniel Johnson and former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley join Natalie Pinkham in the studio at 8.30pm on Wednesday.