Max Verstappen sends F1 title message that could unsettle Lewis Hamilton before Brazil GP

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children

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Max Verstappen says his “relaxed” approach this season has been a key change in his success over Lewis Hamilton in the fight for the driver’s title – and he’s feeling no pressure despite being potentially weeks away from his first triumph.

Hamilton and Verstappen are locked in a tense battle for the world championship title, with Verstappen currently holding a 19-point lead over the seven-time world champion.

However, embroiled in his first Formula One championship fight, the 24-year-old is insistent he feels “relaxed” against Hamilton.

Speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Verstappen told Square Mile: “I’m a more relaxed driver these days, I have a lot more experience now. I’ve been through a lot of different scenarios and situations over the years.

“It just makes you anticipate a lot more things, and you have so much more knowledge about a Formula One car nowadays.

“All these things just help to make things a lot easier.”

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Despite his young age, Verstappen has been on the Formula One grid since 2015, at the time racing for Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri.

Hamilton meanwhile started back in 2007 and has since added seven titles to his name, with Verstappen keen to pick up his first.

But the Dutchman believes it’s just a natural progression and is aware he has time on his side.

“I mean it’s a natural thing in F1, right, because every ten or 15 years, there is a bit of a shift and younger guys come in,” continued Verstappen.

“I definitely think that it’s a little bit more than normal at the moment, with more guys coming in at the same time, which I think is good for the sport as a whole.”

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Both of Verstappen’s parents have been involved in motorsport, with his mother Sophie Kumpen a karting champion in the 1990s and his father Jos a former Formula One driver.

Verstappen joined Toro Rosso at the age of 17, after spending much of his childhood in the paddock.

“I didn’t think about my age, to be honest,” admits Verstappen. “When I was little, I was with my dad around in the paddock, so it was all familiar to me.

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“I don’t care if there are 30 people or ten people working on the car or if it’s an F1 car or a go-kart because, at the end of the day, the only thing I can do is to try and get the best results for the team.

“For me, my age didn’t add any extra pressure, because I always knew what I had to do in the car.

“Of course, I had a lot to learn, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t go fast.”

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