Jos Verstappen: 'When it comes to overtaking, Max is the best'

Published on 04 March 2019 by Stefan Meens

Whilst Max Verstappen was lapping the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during the Formula 1 pre-season tests, caught up with Jos Verstappen to discuss Max’ career, his preparation for 2019 and the upcoming F1 season.

Looking back at the pre-season thus far, how would you rate this winter?
“After Pierre Gasly’s crash, the feeling was a bit less than before, but I think Max is happy with the way things are going so I think it’s positive.”

Do you think there is a better atmosphere within the team, especially since the collaboration with Honda started?
“Yes, everybody is ready and they are looking forward to it. You can really notice it. Honda’s people are also very calm and organized. Don’t forget, this is only the start. I think it can only get better.”

It is hard to imagine today, but in the past, teams could test endlessly. Do you think teams should be allowed to test more, or is it good that the costs are controlled?
“Teams always find a way to test. Instead of testing on track, they now use the simulator. That’s where they set up the car. So in a way, things have stayed the same. Max was in the car on Wednesday and straight after he jumped in the simulator to compare things. That’s the future.”

All being well, Max will contest his 100th Grand Prix in the United States later this year. Do you view him as a young talent or a veteran?
“He’s still incredibly young, still younger then when I started. But he will have contested 100 races so I’d say he’s an experienced young talent.

At the start of last season, Max endured a tough time. How have you seen him grow and develop in 2018?
“I discuss everything with Max, including during his tough time. I don’t think there was anything wrong. It was really the outside world that made a problem out of things. Maybe the conversation after Monaco was hard but if you see how he picked it up from there and how he starts this year, it’s perfect.”

Max was particularly strong in the second half of last year. Would you agree?
“He was indeed very strong, but he always had to take risks to get the result. If you must take risks, anything can happen. That’s why it’s easier to start from the front row, so you don’t have to take risks. But he’s done really well. And when it comes to overtaking, Max is the best.”

The new regulations are introduced to make overtaking easier. Will it work?
“I don’t think it will make a difference. The lap times are almost the same as last year’s.”

Are you planning on supporting Max in different way compared to previous years?
“It’ll be the same as before. I don’t have to be here all the time to tell him what to do; he knows that better than me. But it’s the small things. I don’t tell him what to do, but I talk to him about what I see. That’s more than enough.”

You used to have a big fan club back when you were racing in Formula 1. Max has become incredibly popular to. Why?
“In the first place because he is young but also because he is spectacular. And he’s a normal guy who speaks his mind. I think most people appreciate that. He’s likeable and says it the way he sees it. He’s also the guy who provides the action on track, which people like. You meet fans all over the place and it will only grow once he starts winning more.”

Are you able to enjoy the sport a bit more now you’re watching from the side lines?
“I’ve always enjoyed the sport but it’s still tense when Max races. It’s a feeling I get which I never used to have as a driver.”

“In the beginning, Max had to proof himself. It’s nice to be in F1, but the goal is to be there for a while. That’s why it was more tense and intense in the beginning. In that regard, it’s a bit more relaxed but the races will always be tense.”

Do you miss tinkering with karts?
“You know, it was a great time with all that we went through but I don’t think I could do it again this way. It took so much energy. Me and Max were actually talking about that the other day. He said: ‘Dad, what we put in, I don’t think I could do it again’. It was a wonderful time, but I’m fine with the way things are now.”

What are your three highlights out of Max’ career thus far?
“His world title KZ in karting. Perhaps also the first time he drove a Formula 1 car and his first victory, here in Barcelona.”

Red Bull Racing used to be Jaguar Racing and before that Stewart GP. You drove for the latter. Can you compare the team now to when you were racing for them?
“It’s all a lot more professional. You can’t really compare it. In the old days, you had to take care of more things yourself. But now there are so many more people that do the things for you.”

What counts as a successful 2019 for Max?
“That’s difficult to say. The goal is obviously to become world champion. But we have to remain realistic. And it’s only the first year with Honda. So let’s say it’s a successful season when he finishes in the top three of the championship with a couple of race wins.”

It does depend on the car.
“Yes, and I’m confident they will get there. You have to be in the right car at the right time. We are in the right place. If you look at how Honda started their journey with Red Bull, that’s really positive. We’re looking forward to it and once we win with Honda, Japan will come alive. They’ve had tough time and I hope it will get more positive and they get what they’re after.”