Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen character assessment after Monza – Hes in puppy stage

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Sir Jackie Stewart believes Max Verstappen is faster than Lewis Hamilton, but added that he thinks the 23-year-old is is still in the “puppy stage” of his career alongside the highly experienced seven-time world champion.

Verstappen and Hamilton have been embroiled in a fierce battle all season, with the two coming to blows at the Italian Grand Prix as tensions boiled over on track.

The pair tangled at Monza, with Verstappen deemed more at fault for the incident which ended both their races, but still leads the way over Hamilton by five points heading to Russia.

“I think they [Mercedes] have the best package at the moment, but Red Bull have really shown themselves to be hot,” Stewart told talkSPORT.

“I think it will be between both of them. Verstappen, I think now is the fastest driver in the business, but is still slightly in the puppy stage.

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“At the same time, Lewis may be approaching the end of his career in Formula 1, so I think the future holds more in the Verstappen field. But don’t count out Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton is an extremely good driver.”

The incident was the second of the year for the two title protagonists after they crashed heavily at the British Grand Prix, with Verstappen ending up in hospital for further checks.

He was released with no major injuries on Sunday evening, but Stewart felt it was just another example of the drivers being a little bit overzealous this season.

“It was yet another experience of the two drivers being a little bit over anxious to get on with the job,” Stewart explained.

“It was an early part of the race and not something you want to push too hard on to begin with.

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“It’s a circuit where there is an opportunity to pass on one or two other areas.

“As in Silverstone when there was a collision between both drivers, I think both of those cases could have been avoided.

“They were both too early in the race to be really pushing in that fashion and situations where anybody could have been thrown in the air, upside down, it could have been a very serious situation.

“It would have been very difficult to say who was guilty. The governing body has made a decision, but it was such a weak penalty that only three places at the next Grand Prix Verstappen would have to move back. That’s a very small penalty.

“I think both drivers have to take some responsibility for it. It was a corner they all know because that corner simply wasn’t there in my day.

“It has been put in because the race track was so fast and dangerous that they had to carry out slowing down procedures. That’s what that corner has done.”

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