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Hamilton primed for F1's new generation

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Lewis Hamilton looking at the camera © Getty

Lewis Hamilton says he is relishing the growing threat being posed by F1's next generation amid strong form from Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris.

The five-time world champion and 2019 title leader is the third-oldest driver on the grid and, while he continues to set the standard in F1, Hamilton is up for the challenge to stay ahead of the sport's emerging stars.

"Hopefully no time soon," Hamilton told The F1 Show on Sky Sports F1 at the British GP when asked in a Q&A with fans when he might retire.

"I love the challenge of trying to keep these young'uns behind me. I'm excited for the youngsters coming through, seeing what they bring and seeing if I can compete with them.

"I love it."

Hamilton's comments come in a week that Verstappen, the impressive winner of the last race in Austria, was described by his Red Bull boss Christian Horner as "the best driver in the world" over the past 12 months.

Horner also backed the 21-year-old to beat Hamilton, F1's five-time champion, in the same machinery.

Is Verstappen the best driver in F1?Hamilton excited for 'special' British GP

Speaking on Thursday when he faced the media, Verstappen admitted it is "always good to have your team boss saying that" but declined to comment on whether he felt he would beat Hamilton.

And the Dutchman added: "I think there are more great drivers out there who can take him on.

Hamilton, the sport's established superstar, was also asked for his thoughts on the Red Bull bosses' suggestion.

"I don't compare myself to anybody, I don't need to," said Hamilton. "I don't really have an answer to his claims. Ultimately every now and then somebody needs certain attention..."

But Hamilton did praise "exciting" Verstappen for the Dutchman's current level of performance and win in Austria, when he charged back from seventh to first.

"I think Max has been doing a great job and he's really, really exciting to watch," added Hamilton. "I think the last race was really fantastic. It'll be interesting to see how they do moving forwards."

Hamilton praises Britain's two F1 rookiesSilverstone's Drivers' Press Conference represented something of an F1 'generation game' with the 34-year-old Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, who turned 30 last week, sitting alongside three young rookies - Lando Norris, 19, George Russell, 21, and 25-year-old Antonio Giovinazzi.

"Me and Daniel were just saying that we're having to represent for the 30 crew!" joked Hamilton, the grid's third-oldest man.

As Britain's most famous - and most successful - F1 driver, Hamilton was also asked if he had any advice for compatriots Norris and Russell, who are making their home GP debuts this weekend.

"I don't think I need to give them any advice," replied Hamilton. "They've obviously came through similar ranks to myself and are doing an exceptional job.

"Both have completely different challenges. George is in a team that have struggled for some time but is a part of helping them take steps to improve. I'm a huge fan of Frank [Williams] and what they've achieved in their history. I think that's a team that needs to be up at the top with the rest of them.

"It's amazing to see McLaren doing so well, they've had some really tough years as well. Just watching Lando's progression. It's incredibly impressive to be so young and such an early phase he's coming in, and keeping a level head and delivering on weekends, up against a driver who's got more experience than him.

"I'm personally excited to watch these two grow and see the trials and tribulations they'll face. I do hope we get to do some racing together."

F1 2019 heads to Silverstone for the big event of the motorsport summer. Join Sky Sports F1 for extensive coverage across the weekend - the race starts at 2.10pm. Find out more here to watch all the season live.

a man standing in front of a crowd © Getty

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