Part two of interview with Max: 'I do not necessarily need to break lap records'

Published on 16 October 2018 by Raymond Snip

During Exact Live, which took place last Wednesday, Max Verstappen was available for a candid interview with Verstappen.nl. In part one we reviewed the current season, and we looked ahead to the partnership with Honda for 2019. In this second part we will discuss the new regulations, teammate Daniel Ricciardo and our Belgian neighbor Stoffel Vandoorne, who will make the switch to Formula E next year.

There is much talk about the new regulations for next year that should improve overtaking. To what extent do you think that the changes will actually help to stay closer to the car in front?
"It might help a little bit, but what I'm already reading is that next year we'll have about the same downforce as this year, so I think that the benefit will be limited. It only looks somewhat uglier, but maybe the design will be refined before the next season."

Next year, the DRS effect will become even greater. Are you a supporter of DRS or do you prefer to use a different system, such as push-to-pass seconds, like they use in IndyCar?
"I prefer to not have DRS, which is much more natural and better for the fans, but at some tracks you just cannot catch up, push-to-pass is an option as well, but I don’t think it will be enough to replace the current DRS."

The lap times will probably come down due to the new regulations. Do you prefer to drive a car breaking lap records or a slower car that is able to race wheel-to-wheel?
"I do not necessarily need to break lap records, of course it's nice if a car corners very fast, but if you cannot catch one another, it's not really a nice race, I think you need a bit of a balance between the two. However, it is also not nice to drive a car that has no grip at all. If I compare this year’s car to the cars of 2015 and 2016 then of course, it’s a thousand times better now. It was always sliding and blocking, still fast, but not a nice feeling to drive."

Fast forward a little: what is your opinion about the new concepts for 2021 as announced by the FIA?
"If it is still good to drive and overtaking will improve, I can agree with it, even though the car looks very futuristic. It also depends on how much downforce we lose with the new regulations."

We have seen you teach Daniel and the Toro Rosso men a Dutch language lesson. It was hilarious to watch. What did they ultimately think of that?
"Dutch is not really an easy language to learn, so a few funny sounds came out, yeah!"

What are you going to miss about Daniel (and what not)?
"Daniel is just very nice and easy to get along with. If you have to pick a teammate in Formula 1, he is simply the most relaxed teammate you can have, and he's also a person you probably will not have a lot of problems with. On the other hand, I think I will get along with Pierre (Gasly) as well. What I will not miss is his terrible choice of music, haha! It is sometimes very different, but to each his own."

Despite the fact that there is a continuous battle between teammates, does it hurt to see Daniel like after qualifying in Japan?
"That's never great, since I've been in that situation myself. You're trying to get a good result, whether it's in the race or in qualifying, and then the car suddenly quits. That’s not something  you want, which is why we are going to try to change that for next year."

In Russia there were obvious team orders at Mercedes. What would you have done in a similar situation? A firm 'NO!', like at Singapore in 2015?
"First of all, I would have made sure not to get into that situation simply by going faster, so Hamilton is not that close. Then you don’t have that problem and there's really no discussion. But once you are in that situation, to me, it seems very normal that it happens."

Talents like Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Ocon are most likely without a Formula 1 seat for next year. Any thoughts?
"Stoffel is super nice and easy going. It is a pity for him that he is no longer in Formula 1 and I hope he will get into another race class. Ocon will probably return in Formula 1 very quickly. Of course, there are also up and coming young drivers, so you don’t want to be out of Formula One for too long. It is just not nice to have no seat for a year and someone else does a great job. In Formula One, you will soon be forgotten. One should always try to return to Formula 1 as quickly as possible."

Mick Schumacher is now in the same situation as you were in Formula 3. Do you think it would be wise of him to come to Formula 1 next year if he gets the chance?
"When you get the chance, I would take it, but it depends on how he feels about it himself."

Have you had time to celebrate your birthday after the race in Russia?
"I had to go straight to the airport the following Monday. So, not really, but it's actually always nicer to sleep in your own bed for a night. I heard from the other flight, with all the drivers, that they had a nine-hour flight. They were all unable to sleep because there were only regular seats in that private plane, one was sleeping on the couch, the other on the table or on the floor, and I believe Vettel had brought an inflatable bed with him!"

Read the first part of our exclusive interview with Max here