By Alan Baldwin
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Formula One teen Max Verstappen faced up to his critics on Thursday and said the biggest crash of his fledgling career would have no impact on his approach to racing.
"It will not change me as a racing driver," he told reporters at the Canadian Grand Prix, his first appearance since the Monaco weekend where he smashed into the back of Romain Grosjean's Lotus and brought out the safety car.
"I will keep fighting and especially when you want to fight for points, I will still go for it," added the 17-year-old Dutchman, who was handed a five-place grid penalty for Montreal after stewards ruled he was to blame.
Verstappen, son of former racer Jos, said the main lesson learned was a positive one -- that the car was strong enough to allow him to walk away unhurt after ploughing head-on into the steel and foam barrier.
"I was happy about that, that I didn’t have any injuries," he said. "I didn’t have any problems after that, I went go-karting on Wednesday (afterwards), so I was fit again."
Brazilian Felipe Massa, who was sitting just along from him in a scheduled news conference at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was critical of Verstappen -- Formula One's youngest ever driver -- in the immediate aftermath of the Monaco race.
The veteran Williams driver said then that the rookie's driving was 'pretty dangerous' and noted that "experience counts in Formula One".
Reminded of his words, former Ferrari driver Massa said he had been speaking before the stewards acted.
"I don’t change my mind. That’s what I believe. We need to follow the rules. I said what he did was wrong," added the Brazilian.
Verstappen, in reply, reminded the audience that Massa had crashed into the back of Sergio Perez's Force India in Canada last year -- although the Mexican was penalized for that rather than the Brazilian.
"Everybody can have their opinion, that’s the first thing," said the Toro Rosso driver.
"But I looked at my data, I didn’t brake any later...on the lap I crashed, it was exactly the same as the lap before and I got my penalty.
"I’m focusing on Canada right now and maybe you should review the race from last year and see what happened there," he added.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)