As always with Max Verstappen, it makes interesting viewing. There’s a mix of topics, ranging from his highlights of 2017 to his thoughts on the softer 2018 tyres. He talks about goals for the 2018 campaign, opinions on the halo (“Very Ugly!”), advice from his Dad and the mood in the team.
Speaking to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Verstappen previews the upcoming 2018 Formula 1 season.
What have you been up to during the off-season?
“I spent time with family and friends, in Austria and back home in Monaco. So, pretty chill, nothing crazy. Because you’re traveling so much you really want a two or three-week period of not too much activity.”
What makes you happy?
“Winning races in Formula 1! What also makes me happy is winning games with the FIFA video game. It depends on how you look at it.”
What makes you mad?
“Losing! It’s simple, losing in anything is the worst.”
What were your three highlights from last year?
“The victory in Malaysia, is the first one. The second would be the race in Austin, Texas. I enjoyed coming from the back, really fighting your way through the pack. Actually, the whole race I was pushing flat out to get back into the race and fight for the podium. And then the third one I guess is Mexico.”
Tell us about the RB14. What’s new for 2018?
“Well, the halo, that will be very ugly, not looking forward to that but in general I hope the car will look great and hopefully it’s fast. Hopefully it’s a good step forward so we have a good car straight from the beginning of the year so we don’t end up in a chase like we did last year. I think that’s the most important for us.”
What about the new tyre compounds?
“At the end of the day it’s quite simple, you just select a lot of softer tyres because last year they were quite stiff. It’s going to be interesting to see how the new tyres are going to behave. Nobody really knows. so, hopefully that will mix up at least a few races.”
What goals have you set for 2018?
“I always try to do the best I can anyway. I don’t need to set particular goals to motivate myself. Every race to me is a chance to win. Some tracks of course will be better for us then others, but we’ll have to find that out with the new car.”
Tell us about racing at Paul Ricard or Hockenheim.
“I haven’t really driven a lot at Paul Ricard so, I’m looking forward to see how that will be. It’s close to home which is always nice. Hockenheim, I know from my Formula 3 days so that’s alright. You know, it’s always good to go back there and hopefully a lot of Dutch fans will come there as well.”
What have you missed about Daniel during the off-season?
“His smile (smirk), it’s very charming. But I will see him soon again, I can’t wait. While we were in the snow in Austria, watching a race, he was chilling in Los Angeles”
With the increase in car weight this year, has your approach to training changed?
“The halo is quite heavy, I think it’s more than 6 KG, it’s definitely not favorable for me but I will not adjust my training for it otherwise I won’t feel well during the race. Especially for me, being a taller driver and I guess a bit heavier than most drivers, it’s definitely not ideal.”
Did the regulations last year improve the racing?
“Personally, for me it was a lot more fun driving the car, a bit more difficult to overtake, but the cars looked more aggressive. We have to find a way to be not so dependent on front wings or wings in general and create some more mechanical grip. That way we can keep the cars more or less the same instead of going back to what we had because I really enjoy driving the car we have now.”
What do you think about the three engines limit this year?
“Yeah, that will definitely be a big challenge. Last year we used six. So, to go from six to three is basically half. Hopefully we will make it but we’ll have to wait and see…”
Who will be your biggest rivals?
“You only have two cars per team so you don’t really know who actually is the strongest driver to watch. You always have to pay attention to everybody. Of course, you know that some teams will not be fighting for the championship but that doesn’t mean that you can lose sight of them in terms of driving skills.”
How is the mood in the team?
“The mood is good, I guess. Everybody is happy, everybody is of course motivated for the new season after the strong end we had last year. We can’t wait to get going again. Holidays are nice and it’s good to charge your batteries again but at one point you want to get going.”
Can you beat Mercedes and Ferrari this year?
“At the moment I don’t know. We first have to approach it as good as we can. You never know, because you don’t know how good of a job the team has done compared to the other teams. At the moment I have no expectations because we don’t know where we are until the testing. Well, actually until the first race. Only then we will know where we really are.”
What is the best piece of advice that your dad has given you?
“Keep your feet on the ground. Otherwise he will make sure I do (big smile).”