Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart says Max Verstappen needs to grow up, in the wake of his Italian Grand Prix crash with championship rival Lewis Hamilton.

Both drivers were eliminated from the race at Monza when they collided at the first chicane, with the Red Bull car launched over the Mercedes. Only the halo device saved Hamilton from serious injury, or worse, when Verstappen’s right-rear tyre landed on his helmet.

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It’s the latest in a string of on-track incidents between the pair as they fight for the world title. At the British Grand Prix, Verstappen was taken to hospital after a 51G impact with the wall after he and Hamilton collided on the opening lap, while there have been other, less serious incidents throughout the year.

It’s the first season that Verstappen, who turns 24 later this month, has had the machinery to challenge Hamilton over a full championship campaign.

Stewards handed Verstappen a three-place grid drop over the Italian incident, to be served at the next race, judging that he was predominantly to blame for the accident, but the Dutch driver drew criticism for walking away from the crash without even checking on Hamilton’s condition.

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“Verstappen is taking longer than expected to mature,” Stewart told the Daily Mail.

“Not even to go to see Hamilton after a serious accident when you have just driven over the top of the guy is something I don’t really understand.

“Especially when he is still in his car and remained there for a long time before getting out.”

Verstappen has been given relatively free reign by Red Bull team bosses over the years, who have been loathe to criticise the young star.

“Max has quite a lot to learn. But who will he listen to?” Stewart asked.

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“He’s very, very good. He’s probably the fastest driver on the grid now, but to be a proper champion you cannot be entangling yourself in crashes all the time.

“If I were their team principals, I’d tell them, ‘For Christ’s sake, don’t do it again’.

“Just because you are leading the world championship, it doesn’t mean you are bulletproof.”

Stewart, who led the campaign to improve driver safety in the 1970s, said the penalty for Verstappen wasn’t enough, given the potential severity of the crash at Monza.

“The stewards have more information, but if they were so certain Verstappen was entirely to blame then why does he only get a three-place penalty?” he said.

“If it weren’t for the halo, Lewis could have died, and the supposed culprit only gets a slap on the wrist.”

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