YOU ASK THE QUESTIONS…
…and young Red Bull ace Max Verstappen answers them
The Red Bull ace and Formula 1’s youngest ever grand prix winner discusses his racing pedigree and explains why passing his driving test wasn’t quite plain-sailing
Max Verstappen doesn’t hesitate. His whole demeanour, whether he’s inside the cockpit of a racing car or talking to friends, journalists or engineers, is flat-out. He’s not a man to dwell on an idea: there’s no doubt in his mind about where he wants to go next – be that out on track or over the course of a conversation.
We catch up with Max ahead of what will turn out to be an eventful weekend for him. During the Malaysian Grand Prix, not only will he leave his teenage years behind as he turns 20 (his birthday lands on the same day as qualifying, 30 September), but he’ll also scoop the second grand prix victory of his career.
But all that is currently still to come. This interview is taking place the Thursday before the event and we’re armed with a much bigger stack of question cards than usual, which have been sent in by
F1 Racing readers from around the world. We anticipate he’ll rattle through them – and we’re right. Let’s go…
What was the secret to your stunning drive in that wet race at Interlagos in 2016? Kasra Mogari, USA
There wasn’t really any secret. I was just driving my car like a kart – finding the grip, trying different lines – and when there’s so much spray, you can’t really see where you’re going if you just follow the other drivers. I was trying different lines to see where I was going, and that worked out pretty well.
F1 Racing: Is it true to say that all the grip is off-line? MV: It depends. On that track it seemed to work, but it’s not the same at other venues. It’s mainly ‘feeling’. You just have to try different lines. F1R: And at one point you came close to hitting the wall. MV: Yes. That was very close.
What has been your favourite overtaking manoeuvre in F1 and why? Chris Hodson, UK
I think the one at Spa, around the outside. That was quite tricky. F1R: On Felipe Nasr? MV: Yup. I’ve had a few you know, so it’s quite difficult to remember
them all. Even Brazil in the wet last year was good. But to overtake around Blanchimont at high speed was the most challenging manoeuvre.
Which historic F1 car would you most like to have a go in? Marco van Harn, Netherlands
I would like to try a 1994 car, something like that. And then after that I’d like to try a car from around 2007 or 2008. F1R: Is there any reason why you’d be so keen to drive cars from those periods in particular? MV: I like the look of them, particularly the cars from 1994. With the later ones, I just like all the aerodynamic parts and wings on them. F1R: So nothing truly historic from the 1960s or 70s? MV: No, not interested.
Which F1 teams and drivers did you follow when growing up? Not including your dad… Paul Williamson, UK
I didn’t really follow any driver or team. I just liked to watch the races. I never had pictures of a favourite F1 driver or any of their cars on the wall of my room, or anything like that. Nothing. F1R: So, forgive us asking, what did you have pictures of? MV: Landscapes, maps of the world, countries, capitals and flags…
F1R: So if we were to give you a country, would you be able to name its capital city? MV: I’ll try, but it was a long time ago. F1R: We’ll give you a hard one to start off. What’s the capital city of Mongolia? MV: That’s a tricky one. I don’t know that one. F1R: How about Saudi Arabia? MV: Riyadh. F1R: Very good! Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia.
Are you better than your dad? Peter Sheppard, UK
Well, that was always the aim of my dad, when he was helping me, for me to become better than him. So, yes, I am.
Which track would you like to see added to the F1 schedule? Joseph Johnston, USA
I quite like Imola, that’s a good track and I’d like to see it make a return to the calendar. Or Zandvoort, with some modifications – I think that would be great. Other tracks? No, not really. F1R: What about somewhere like Adelaide? MV: Nah, I’m not a fan of street circuits in general. I prefer normal tracks with fast corners.
Which is your favourite track to race on, and why? Jo Roberts, UK
That’s definitely Spa. It’s kind of a home grand prix for me and there are a lot of fans. But also the track itself is so good, the layout has flowing corners and it’s not so much stop-start. That’s what I like in a qualifying lap: really pushing, not having lock-up under braking because of a hairpin, or struggling with traction. There’s none of that – just a sequence of fast corners. Sector two is my favourite: Les Combes and then the long right-hander down the hill. It can be tricky to get the right line; it depends on your car. Sometimes you might have to ‘V’ the corner a bit more because you are understeering, or if you have more front end you can take more of a ‘U’ line.
Which other racing disciplines do you want to try later on in your career? Steven Cook, USA
I’d like to try Motogp. When I was eight years old I used to race on two wheels as well as four. I really liked it. It was a bit more dangerous, of course, but absolutely I would like to try it. Motogp is a different world but I like the feeling of getting close to the ground with your knees in the corners. I don’t normally watch any other type of racing. I’ll tune into the Indy 500, but not anything else except for Motogp. It’s good to watch: great racing.
I DON’T SEE MY DAD AS A RACING HERO, I JUST SEE HIM AS A MENTOR AND FRIEND. I HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT FOR M“WHAT HE DID TO HELP E
Who is quicker: your mum [former karting star Sophie Kumpen] or your dad [former F1 racer Jos Verstappen]? Justin Bobby, Australia
I think ultimately my dad. Yes, my mum was very quick, but I think my dad was just that little bit better. They have driven in karts on the same track together – and it’s been close – but my dad was faster.
You post a lot of pictures of yourself playing games on social media – what’s your favourite? Tom Bryan, UK
Mainly FIFA. A bit of the F1 game, but mainly football with my Ultimate Team on FIFA 18.
When you passed your driving test last year, did the examiner point out any issues with your driving or give you any pointers? Aaron Fothergill, UK
Um… yes, twice. Both times I didn’t give way, but from my perspective the other driver was so far away. So, that was the examiner’s opinion against mine. The other time there were people crossing, but they were not even close to the edge of the road. Again, that was my opinion against his. But I got my licence, so it’s all good now.
Do you reckon you have been unjustly accused of having too ‘wide’ a car? Isn’t the point of racing to pass and not be passed? Robert Wood, USA
Yeah, I think overtaking is an art and defending is an art as well.
What is it like working with Dr Helmut Marko? Donald Rose, USA
From the outside he looks… I wouldn’t say ‘grumpy’, but a difficult person. But actually when you get to know him he’s a nice guy and a racer who understands what he’s talking about. And you have to perform otherwise you get kicked off the Red Bull Young Driver Programme and that’s the reality of the sport. He is a bit harsh compared with other people, but then again I’ve been working with my dad and I’ll never find anyone harder on me than my dad is.
Hi Max, what do you do to have fun? John Slater, New Zealand
Just spending time with my friends. Jet-skiing, maybe not so much now the weather’s turned, but that’s my favourite. I do spend time with my family, but because I travel so much, it’s nice to be at home and to sleep and chill.
What design rule would you introduce to make the driving better? Trevor Mcbean, UK
At the moment we can’t follow other cars very closely and that’s a problem I would address. But that’s the only thing.
Who’s your racing hero? Michael Parker, New Zealand
I don’t have one. F1R: Not even your dad? MV: No, because I don’t see him as a racing hero, I just see him as a mentor and friend. I have a lot of respect for what he did to help me.
Given your love for the Playstation, would you consider racing in the F1 esports world championship? Kunal Shah, India
I could do, but I wouldn’t be fast as I don’t play it enough. There are a lot of professional sim racers, so I’d have no chance…
} Next month, Stoffel Vandoorne is in the hotseat. For your chance to ask him a question, sign up at: f1racing.com/globalfancommunity
Max as a toddler in 2000, pictured with his father, Jos, who was then racing in F1 with Arrows