A dramatic race at Suzuka saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just over a second to win Sunday’s 2017 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo also made it to the podium, while Sebastian Vettel retired for the second time in last three races.
In the end, Verstappen was 1.2 seconds behind Hamilton, but at one stage the gap had been under a second. Afterwards, the Mercedes star commented on the Dutchman's rise in Formula One and their rivalry.
Hamilton held off Verstappen for his eighth win of the season. Doing that, he secured a 59-point lead over Vettel in the Championship, with only four races left and 100 points on the table.
The Hamilton-Verstappen duel comes only a week after they duelled for the first place in Malaysia, with the Red Bull man emerging victorious.
"I'm enjoying being in an era with such great young talent coming through," Hamilton claimed.
"He'll be here far beyond when I stop and until then I'm not giving him too many poles, too many wins."
They both joked about the situation at the post-race drivers' press conference with Hamilton insisting he was desperate to prove that he is still 'young at heart'.
He added: "I was driving down the back straight at one point and I'm thinking 'Jeez, the guy behind me is so much younger than me,"
"I've got to make sure I kind of man up and show my age and make sure that I stay ahead. Show that I am actually still very young at heart.'"
At which point, Verstappen jumped in to say: "I was thinking 'this guy is so old in front of me.'"
"Yeah, 'I'm not letting this little... through," Hamilton concluded.
Verstappen, 20, is currently on the radars of both Mercedes and Ferrari, with his future after 2019 seemingly still up in the air.
"I just want to be in the fastest car. I do not dislike [the idea of driving for Ferrari] at all. I just want to be in the fastest car in Formula One because that means you can win races and that is what I want to do." Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 right after the race.
Red Bull bosses might not be thrilled to hear that. Verstappen looks destined to be a future Formula One Great and every team would be happy to have him.
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