Max satisfied after the first races: 'Best season start so far'

Published on 21 April 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen was present at the Jumbo headquarters for the press conference for the Jumbo Racing Days, which will be held on 18th and 19th May on Circuit Zandvoort. Besides discussing the spectacular race programme of the two-day event in May, Max season start, the partnership with Honda, the future of Formula 1 and Max early start of his career were discussed.

How do you look back at the start of the season?
“In general, we can be satisfied with this start”, says Max. “I think nobody can expect that we would be competing for the victory straight away, that is not realistic. Having a new partner takes time. So far, I am very happy with Honda. They have a clear goal, enough money and the right components. There is no limit. The engine is reliable and very few things break. That way we can take points that are very important for the whole season. Of course, engine power can always be better, but we knew that. They are working incredibly hard to improve. We cannot complain.”

“We cannot only focus on the engine, we also have to look at ourselves. We have to do a bit better concerning the car, try to find more downforce, and a more constant balance in general during the race. That is what we are incredibly busy with and hopefully we can develop quicker than Mercedes and Ferrari. At the moment we have to maximise what we have now. And so far we have done an excellent job, the best season start so far.”

How do you experience the partnership with Honda?
“I enjoy working with the Japanese. They are calm, but very motivated and focussed on what they have to do. They know their role in the team. When I have a problem, they will quickly fix it. They have test beds in Japan and a factory in Milton Keynes, where Red Bull Racing is, it is great that they are so close by. When we find a problem on the Friday, they will try to find a solution directly on their test bed. Sometimes when you get in the car the next day, they have already changed some of the settings to fix it.”

What would you like to change in Formula 1?
“The tires. At the moment they are very sensitive and quickly overheat. Then you will slide more and it is hard to follow others. So it is hard to fight during a race. DRS helps to get closer, but in the end I do not want to depend on that. Also after a quick lap you have to slow down to be able to do another one. Because the tires have to cool down and that takes way to long. It is the same during the race. You have to stay in a certain limit, otherwise the tires overheat. I would like to drive a lot faster.”

“We also should be less dependent on the engines. At the moment there is too much of a difference between the engines. In the last couple of years the championship was mostly won by the team with the best engine. Generally you should keep that difference between the 20 or 30 horsepower. Regarding the aerodynamics, it does not have to go as fast for me. As long as we can race each other better. Or when you touch someone and something breaks off, that it will not cost half a second per lap. Now when you drive a little too fast over a kerb, half the bottom of your car breaks off and that is not what you want.”

“Finally, the difference between the teams are too big. You have the three top teams: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But the difference from the third to the fourth team is almost a second, the is a big difference. I think the races would be much prettier if we could bring that all a bit close together.”

When karting everyone talked about the talent of Max Verstappen. Did that make you experience more pressure or responsibility when you took the step to motor racing?
“It is always the question when switching from karting to motor racing, how good are you going to be? I think there are many examples where it was a bit more difficult. For me we also had to wait and see how it would go, but it felt good straight from the first test in motor racing. Then you have to make the difficult decision in which class you are going to drive. I personally felt better in the Formula 3, but it was a big step. But I think when you as the driver feel better with that, you have to go for it.”

What are the things your father or other tutors had to point out to you?
“There are multiple things since I was young. I started when I was four years old, so you grow into it. I think that is true for every sport. I spent a lot of time with my father. I learned most from driving in the rain. With karting my father was standing on the track and showed my where to drive, because there was more grip. At some point I started to see for myself that I had to take different lines to see where there was more or less grip. In the end you need that little push from someone who knows what he is talking about to point out those things to you. If nobody explains those things, you will take the wrong approach.”

What is the most important thing you learned from your father?
“The most important thing I was taught was to always be yourself and stay down to earth. When you are successful there will always be people who say ‘you are great’, but in the end you should not listen to them. You have to be neutral. I think I can say that I have always done that and I still am. Of course it is a bit trickier in Formula 1 than before, but it has been one of the most important lessons. Also have a lot of confidence, always believe in yourself. There are enough people in the race world who try to take you down and make it hard for you by being negative.”

Have you ever doubted that you would make it where you are now?
“I think there is always some doubt, you just cannot know for sure. There are only twenty drivers in Formula 1 each year, so there is absolutely some doubt, but you have to believe that you can do it. I have always tried to do the best I can. I think I have always been relaxed about that, but as soon as I had my helmet on, I went all in. Gladly it all worked out.”

Tickets for Jumbo Racing Days, driven by Max Verstappen
The free dune tickets for the Jumbo Racing Days on 18th and 19th May, are available from 24th April with specific action products at Jumbo. For a unique view behind the scenes there are tickets for the sheltered grandstand, including access to the Formula 1 paddock, the popular and limited F1 Paddock tickets and exclusive packets for the Max Verstappen Paddock Club, available from www.circuitzandvoort.nl.