Max Verstappen, a Formula One driver with Red Bull Racing, is the youngest driver to compete in Formula 1, at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix – and the youngest Formula One Grand Prix winner ever at just 18 years and 227 days, at the Spanish Grand Prix on 15 May this year.
ExpatGo chatted with Max in the build-up to the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend:
Family life and early career
Tell us about your family’s influence on your career.
I grew up with racing; it’s been in my life since I was 2 or 3 years old. I would always travel with my dad [former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen] when he was racing.
Therefore, I started racing myself when I was just 4 and my family, especially my dad, were there to support me. Even up until Formula 1, he was my mechanic and my engine tuner.
As one of the younger racers, do you feel that there is more or less pressure on you? Which of your current competitors did you look up to most when you were younger?
I never really ‘looked up’ to any of the current drivers, but I have always massively respected [Fernando] Alonso – the way he drives and behaves.
I feel like there’s less pressure on me, not because I’m younger, but because I’ve now won my first race!
This year’s championship
You’re currently 6th in the WDC rankings – how are you feeling for the remaining races? Obviously competition is really tough; I’ve lost a little bit of momentum recently. [Verstappen’s recent results with Red Bull are, after winning in Spain: Retired, 4th, 8th, 2nd in Austria, 2nd in the UK, 5th, 3rd in Germany, 11th, 7th and 6th in Singapore two weeks ago]. But I still think 6th or above is a realistic target. We’ll see.
How do you prepare for a race; do you have a specific regime?
Not really! I warm up a bit, I receive a massage from my trainer. I just have a laugh and get ready to race. It was the same when I did go-karting so it’s good to stay consistent and that’s how I prepare for Formula 1.
How are you enjoying Southeast Asia? Have you had any memorable experiences so far, perhaps the food?
I’ve yet to discover Kuala Lumpur properly so far, but recently I visited and really enjoyed Langkawi. We went on a jet ski tour through the jungle – there were monkeys everywhere!
Unfortunately, I have a strict regime, so I cannot go too crazy with eating experiences, which is shame because we’re in a country so famous for its food. It would be risky so close to the race.
Any further thoughts, Max?
I was always looking forward to coming back to Malaysia. The people here are always happy to help you and they’ve got a great passion for Formula 1. I’m looking forward to the weekend!