FORMULA 1: MAX VERSTAPPEN
Max Verstappen’s uncompromising
style has won him many fans, but it’s
also ruffled a few feathers on the grid.
At times those unhappy with the
Dutchman’s driving have included his
Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel
Ricciardo, but the Australian admits
that’s because it’s a style that seems
close to home.
“I would honestly put myself, him
and [Sebastian] Vettel in a group in
terms of our willingness to attack or
defend,” Ricciardo says. “More than
most guys out there, I feel like we’re
all willing to put a bit more on the line
in battle than a lot of the others.
Probably [Fernando] Alonso is up there
as well, but I’m talking guys at the
front – or at least at the front now.
“I kind of know what to expect
with Max because we’re doing similar
things. He’s a guy where, if you’re
going to defend, you have to defend
all the way to the white line or he’ll
Barely out of his teens, you
wouldn’t expect Verstappen to be
perfect, and last year he received
criticism for moving under braking.
“I defended against him a few
times last year, like in Malaysia, but I
can’t really recall when it was the
other way around,” says Ricciardo.
“But watching on-boards, Max against
Lewis in Suzuka or Kimi in Budapest, I
was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a bit going on.’”
But with that robust style, Ricciardo
says his teammate is showing the right
approach when honing his skills.
“One thing you can’t criticize Max
for is he goes for it,” he says. “Him,
me, Seb – most of the time we’ll leave
nothing on the table. And my thinking
is, you’re better off being like that
than not trying at all.”
Daniel Ricciardo sees a lot of similarities
in the way he and Red Bull teammate
Max Verstappen approach their racing.
“HE GOES FOR IT”
“I just want to win races and
championships, and eventually how many it
will be or not, I don’t know,” he says. “But
you always strive to do your best, and then
you see where it ends. But eventually I want
to be [winning titles]. I don’t want to sit here
at 27 and still be in the same position.”
Horner knows retaining Verstappen’s
services will not be an easy task, because
even at such a young age he’s in the catbird
– all outstanding. So this year has obviously
been an awful lot tougher for him.”
Obvious interest from the likes of Ferrari
and Mercedes means Verstappen knows he
is F1’s future. So does the lure of a team in
red with a storied past carry as much
weight as having the quickest car?
“No, absolutely not,” he says. “If we have
a winning package at Red Bull, there’s no
reason to leave. It’s a really good team and I
enjoy being here, but I want to win races and
championships, so let’s see after next year.”
Asked if Verstappen could be the best
driver RBR has ever run, Horner holds
back a little, but it’s obvious that retaining
its phenom is the team’s overriding desire.
“On Max, I think it’s still too early to tell,”
he says. “We’ve had some phenomenal
drivers, but he’s certainly on that road…”
It used to be Red Bull calling all the
shots on drivers, but Verstappen is a
special case. He doesn’t have to convince
the team to retain him; the team has to
prove to him it’s the right place for his
future. And the clock is already ticking...
seat, an in-demand talent who can choose
whichever team he races for at the end of
his current RBR contract in a year’s time.
“Obviously, there’s a huge amount of
interest in him,” Horner admits. “So it’s
down to us to provide a competitive car.
“When he reflects on this year, I think it
will have taught him a few lessons about
digging in, not giving up, picking yourself up
and getting on with the job. Ultimately, I
think he’ll benefit from this experience
because every year can’t be a fairytale.
“Last year we were almost spoiled
because he had such a strong season.
Winning his debut race; all the podiums;
that incredible drive in Brazil [making up
13 places in 16 laps to earn his seventh
podium of the season at a wet Interlagos]
“Eventually I want to be [winning
titles]. I don’t want to sit here at 27
and still be in the same position”
(LEFT) Red Bull’s
home race, the
Austrian GP, pretty
much summed up
2017 – a pre-start
clutch issue followed
by a race-ending, first-lap, first-turn collision.
Promoted to the
Red Bull Racing
squad for the
won on his debut.
At 18 years and
228 days, he
in F1 history.
START IN SPAIN