Lewis Hamilton says F1 title battle with Max Verstappen is not toughest of his career

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, right, boasts a 12 point lead over and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has played down his title fight with Max Vetstappen, saying it is not the most challenging he has faced in his career.

Hamilton finished second just behind Verstappen at last weekend’s US Grand Prix to see the Dutchman extend his lead in the drivers’ championship to 12 points, with six races to go.

The pair have come to blows a number of times on the track this season, most notably at Silverstone when Verstappen suffered a high-speed crash, and they went wheel to wheel in the opening forays in Texas too.

But Hamilton played down the battle, saying he has experienced tougher rivalries in his long career.

“No, I wouldn’t say so,” he said when asked by Sky Sports. “I was just thinking earlier on today about all the championships I’ve fought in since I was 10.

“And there have been so many difficult moments and they are all very similar in their own way, but all unique in their own way at the same time.”

Hamilton believes Mercedes have learned from their mistakes through the season and can make the difference in the final races of the season to clinch his ninth world title.

“It could be better in the sense we’ve dropped points, we’ve not always been perfect. But you live and learn. I feel like things have happened the way they have for a reason – we’ve learned a lot.”

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