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Published: 18:37 | 9/10/17

Hamilton enjoying 'elder statesman' role


Lewis Hamilton has laughed off the age gap between him and some of his rivals in Formula One and says he's privileged to be competing against such great young drivers.

The Mercedes driver won the Japanese GP on Sunday to take an iron grip on the race for the drivers' title, eopening up a 59-point lead over second-placed Sebastian Vettel, with only four races remaining this season.

Vettel was forced to retire early on and it was Red Bull's Max Verstappen who pushed Hamilton the hardest, following up last week's victory in Malaysia with a second place at Suzuka.

With Verstappen just turned 20, the three-time world champion is 12 years his senior but it is not something which bothers Hamilton.

"I was driving down the back straight at one point and I'm thinking 'Jeez, the guy behind me [Verstappen] is so much younger than me, I've got make sure I kind of man up and show my age and make sure that I stay ahead," he said. "Show that I'm actually still very young at heart.

"I am enjoying being in an era with such great young talent coming through. He'll be here far beyond after I stop. But until then, I will try and not give him too many poles or too many wins."

Verstappen meanwhile was fortright on rumours surrounding a move for him by Ferrari when his contract with Red Bull expires at the end of next year.

"I just want to be in the fastest car," he told Sky F1. "I don't dislike [the idea of driving for Ferrari] at all.

"I just want to be in the fastest car in Formula 1 because that means you can win races and that's what I want to do."

The United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas will be shown live over the weekend of 20-22 October on eir Sport in Ireland. The race is live on eir Sport 1 on Sunday, 22 October [race time 8pm]

Image: Getty/Mark Thompson

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