‘I am Max Verstappen, not Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna’
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen stormed into the elite club of race winners when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix to become the youngest race winner in Formula 1 history at just 18.other sports Updated: Jul 11, 2017 10:53 IST
His wet weather skills have had Formula 1 experts compare him to legends like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, but Max Verstappen doesn’t want to be them. He wants to be himself.
The Red Bull driver stormed into the elite club of race winners when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix to become the youngest race winner in F1 history at just 18.
The Dutchman, who is the son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, has many ‘young’ records against his name starting with the youngest to compete in F1 -- at the 2015 Australian GP aged just 17 years and 166 days. He is also the youngest to lead an F1 race, set a fastest lap, score points and secure a podium.
HT caught up with the 19-year-old to discuss the comparisons with Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, relationship with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo and Sunday’s Austrian GP among other things.
Your wet weather skills, especially at races like the 2016 Brazilian GP and 2017 Chinese GP, have had experts compare you to Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, who were masters in the rain. What are your thoughts on that?
To be honest I would like to be known as myself. I try not to think about those things too much. I am of course happy with the performances in the wet. It is nice to know that people are seeing my skill but I want to be known as myself.
How did the F1 paddock treat you before your remarkable victory in Spain last year and after that, keeping in mind your age?
All good. I mean it was the same afterwards, pretty similar. Yeah, of course, the more you achieve the more they respect you. But for me, at the end of the day, whether they don’t respect me or do, it doesn’t make a difference.
Red Bull is one of the few teams which has two very quick drivers and, significantly, lets them race. What is your opinion of Daniel Ricciardo, first as a racing driver, and then as a teammate?
I think as a racing driver he is very quick. He knows when to perform and is very experienced too. And he is a very good teammate. We can have a good laugh, share all the information, which is very good. So I am very happy that he is my teammate.
This year it looks like it is going to be a Sebastian Vettel vs Lewis Hamilton championship. Who do you think will come out on top, keeping in mind the domination of Mercedes in the last three years?
It is a bit difficult to say because now with the new cars it is all about the development of the car. So whosoever will be the best in that, for sure will win the championship. At the moment I do not know. It is pretty hard to say.
You had a disappointing Sunday at the Austrian GP after crashing out on Lap 1 for no fault of yours. What are your thoughts on that?
The boys (team) are all working very hard and I have to try and stay positive. It’s definitely not nice at the moment and I’m very disappointed again but it’s also very important to keep pushing everyone forward as there are still many races to go. We just hope that the next race will be better. We will of course try to do better at Silverstone.
First Published: Jul 11, 2017 08:50 IST