F1 Paddock Pass: Italian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, NBCSN’s Will Buxton brings you the news and interviews in the latest instalment of NBC Sports’ original digital series “Paddock Pass”.

In part one, Will speaks to the warring Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg following their on-track collision at the Belgian Grand Prix. The waters do appear to have calmed at the German team, but the stage is set for a thrilling encounter at Monza. We also hear from Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas ahead of this weekend’s race.

Part two looks a bit further down the calendar to the United States Grand Prix, which is set to take place on November 2nd. We speak to American racing legend Mario Andretti, who is visiting Monza for the first time since 1983 this weekend, and Mexican racer Sergio Perez about the race in Austin, Texas.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.