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Max Verstappen Q&A: I've exceeded my own expectations

26 Nov 2015

Few rookies have established themselves as F1 stars as quickly as Max Verstappen; fewer still have done so without a front-running car. At just 18, Verstappen has taken a first year of F1 racing in his stride, and won a legion of fans for his swashbuckling bravado and overtakes - but as he readily admits, even he wasn't expecting 2015 to turn out so well...

Q: Max, after your heroics in Brazil, could this be another good track for overtaking?

Max Verstappen: Ha, I know what you mean. (laughs) I also wouldn't have guessed that you could overtake in Turn 1 in Brazil, but it worked. Is this a track that allows the same? I will have to see, so right now I have to say I don't know.

Q: Everyone has been surprised by your rookie season - some smart moves, minimal mistakes, not taking lots of people out... More like an old-timer than an 18-year old...

MV: I am so pleased that people have noticed that. (laughs) And yes, it is cool to make good moves - and the more of these moves that work for you the more self-confidence you get, and the bolder you become. That is a fantastic learning curve. I have to say that I am very pleased with that.

Q: Do you watch videos to learn how other drivers have been overtaking in crucial spots?

MV: Yes, I do - like on Sunday morning you check older videos of how people overtake, to find out what is possible - and also what is not, where it has gone wrong. But that is not something I do every race Sunday, just if I have the chance.

Q: At the start of the season your age was a huge topic. Now that you have proved it to be irrelevant, it's far less so. But what about yourself: have you exceeded your own expectations?

MV:  My age was never a topic for me - I continued doing what I was doing in F3, just with a faster car. That was about it for me. Everything was media hype and not really anything to do with me. And yes, I would say that I have exceeded my expectations: I have more points than I expected. So yes, it's been better than I thought - and that is pretty cool, for sure.

Q: What was the highlight of your season?

MV: Ha, I had many. And that is also a good thing to have! Probably Austin was my best race - a clean race with clean moves.

Q: Do you have any kind of game plan that you follow - it brought you ten points finishes...

MV: No game plan, no. Only a simple thing: stay on track and make some good moves! (laughs)

Q: Has your dad Jos been surprised by how well your season has gone? Especially as he knows how hard the business of Formula One racing is, being an ex-F1 driver himself...

MV: Yes, he knows how difficult it is to leave a mark in this environment. So I would say yes, I think he was a bit surprised. But in the end every dad is confident in his own son, isn't he? We are working so closely together that the surprise level is not that high - but a bit is there, definitely.

Q: You have been hailed as the new Vettel, the new Schumacher etc. How hard is it to stay grounded with all that praise?

MV: I have my dad for that! (laughs) And I think it [not being grounded] is not in my personality. And should there be a trace, then my dad is there.

Q: You are now P12 in the drivers' standings, equal on points with Romain Grosjean and only three behind Nico Hulkenberg in P10. What would it mean for you to make it into the top ten?

MV: It doesn't really make a huge difference for me. If you are fighting for the title, yes, that's a different matter, but P10 doesn't make a huge difference.

Q: Do you think you will have an adequate engine next season - one that will allow you to further show your potential?

MV: If we know which engine, yes! (laughs) And I honestly hope that we will have more horsepower, to be able to fight with Force India. If you see how much they gain on a straight - especially in the race. In qualifying it matters a bit less. The races are really painful for us. Fifty horsepower more would make life so much easier, as you can much better control the car behind you. Or let's turn it around: the Mercedes cars in front of us can control us and we have to work so hard in the corners to catch up! From the experience I have gained this season I would say that with a really good engine we would have been on the podium - sure, not all the time and only if some cars in front retired - but definitely on the podium.

Q: What is the most difficult thing you have had to come to terms with in your rookie season?

MV: To work with the tyres. To find out how to drive them. That was much different to what I was used to. So definitely the tyres.

Q: Now that we've seen that you've learned that lesson, what's the plan for next year?

MV: Doing a bit better than this year!