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Exclusive Verstappen Q&A: I need to prove I deserve 2015 seat

03 Dec 2014

Max Verstappen's meteoric rise from F3 rookie to Red Bull protégé and Formula One driver is already well established, but the big question is what comes next - and specifically how he will perform in his rookie campaign in 2015. For his part, the 17-year-old insists the pressure isn't weighing down on him, even if he accepts it is now down to him to justify the faith both Red Bull and Toro Rosso have shown in him. One thing is certain: Verstappen is determined to hit the ground running...

Q: Max, three months ago you were relatively unknown, but now suddenly you are centre stage: how are you handling that?
Max Verstappen:
By focusing on what I really have to do. I want to do a good job for the team every time I get into the car - especially at a test when you run some of the 2015 spec (parts)!

Q: But there must be differences now. Before when you walked by nobody would notice too much - and now they run after you for autographs. All that at just 17…
That's all fine with me. To be very clear: I stop whenever I'm stopped by fans.

Q: Red Bull has shown huge confidence in your talent - but they have also put you in the line of fire to justify that confidence. Does that mean pressure?
Not really. The simple truth about F1 is that you have to deliver a good job. And that is what I am trying to do.

Q: But they expect you to do a good job, and you just said that you are trying to do a good job - there is a difference between these two…
I think when you've made it so far - to be in F1 - then your team expects you to do a good job! No? At the end of the day of course it is me who has to deliver - to show I can do it and that I deserve their confidence.

Q: You got your first full day in a current F1 car, and your first idea of new parts for 2015, during testing at Abu Dhabi. You had some issues to contend with on the first day, but you were in the car for four straight hours on day two. Can you describe your emotions?
It was fantastic to know that now you can really start to work for next season. It is my car now - and not like in FP1 [outings] when I had to give the car back to somebody else. It felt great to get a real 'hands on' experience of how to work with a car. Even after those four hours it was hard to convince me to get out for the lunch break! (laughs) The long runs were really good.

Q: Can you talk us through the programme you ran?
Long runs - and no focus on lap times. At the moment I don't need to show how fast I am. Sure other drivers, who only have one day, want to show [their pace] - but for me it's a different story. It was all about focusing on what the team wanted to test - and we tested a lot. For example the new tyres for next year, [which we ran] for the first time. And some very basic things such as communication: I have to understand what they want from me and vice versa.

Q: You come from a racing background. Does it help that your dad (Jos Verstappen, a veteran of 106 Grands Prix) knows the sport?
Of course it helps. The main thing of course was to get me here - my dad prepared me for that. I had to be very successful in the lower categories. So my dad plays a big role, as he also knows the bad parts! (laughs) He also prepared me for those.

Q: You played in the F1 paddock back when you were a toddler. Do you have any memories of that?
Yes, I played here - I cannot remember really, but when I came back some years later it was overwhelming. The motorhomes, the number of people working in this environment, the glamour. I immediately understood that this is another world. But now that you are in it - suddenly the big world turns into a small world!

Q: What has changed for you since you signed for a permanent 2015 drive?
I hope nothing changes. I want to stay the person that I was before.

Q: Toro Rosso is probably the best team for young talent - but it is also a tough environment. It seems to be the case that every two years they 'refresh' and drivers either move up to Red Bull if there is availability - or move out again. How are you going to organise your next two years?
Yes, that's true but if you do a good job you can move up: just look at Sebastian (Vettel) Daniel (Ricciardo) and Daniil (Kvyat).

Q: But is there a schedule in your head of how you break up this time? That you want to achieve this or that in a certain timeframe?
No. You have two years and you take this time to do the best you can - always.

Q: How will the next two months look, until the Jerez test at the beginning of February? What is on your to-do list? A different training or fitness regime?
Yes, to get physically prepared. Test days are good to test out your physique. And until Jerez I will do a lot of training at home, and in Faenza. And I'll be doing simulator work in Milton Keynes. So there won't be a dull moment.

Q: Helmut Marko said that as you are still in the 'growing process' they might look at different training programmes for you - is that so?
Yes, and they will guide me through all that.

Q: Do you have any idols you want to follow?
It is difficult saying what to follow and what not, so the goal is to be oneself and develop that personality! (laughs) But if you ask me my favourite driver nowadays: Fernando Alonso is a great driver. The last two years he didn't have a good car - and still did very good races.

Q: If you could make a wish for your F1 future, what would it be?
Hopefully being a Formula One champion one day!