This interview was done after Max Verstappens' very strong first podium visit (2nd place) at Silverstone a fortnight ago. However, after his even stronger performance this past weekend during the second round of the FIA F3 European Championship, with two pole positions and a maiden race win, the 16-year old Rookie is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) secured the CIK-FIA Karting World Championship title, last year and afterwards advanced to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, for the 2014 season. And by securing a podium in the third round of the first race weekend of the season, at Silverstone, the 16-year-old son of former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen demonstrated that he has got what it takes to successfully cope with this big step.
What’s your conclusion after the first race weekend of the season?
MV: The first race didn’t run the way I hoped it would. I had clutch problems right from the start and in addition, I was involved in a collision. Race two was rather okay and I could be pleased with having finished fifth. In race three, however, things went even better: I made a good start and could battle it out for the top positions right away. And it goes without saying that I was delighted with having finished second.
How did your FIA Formula 3 European Championship involvement come about? After all, you just advanced from karting to car racing…
|Max Verstappen, carefully monitored by his dad, Jos Verstappen, behind him|
MV: The original plan was to race in Formula Renault 2.0. But then I was offered the chance of testing a Formula 3 single-seater and the car was just great. It produces more grip than a Formula Renault car and therefore, its cornering speed is higher. Driving it was just more fun and in addition, I wasn’t exactly slow. And why I opted for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship? Well, this series offers me the chance of contesting many races – three races on each of the 11 race weekends. These 33 races will allow me to gather a lot of experience. And this experience will be crucial if I want to work my way up on the motor-racing ladder.
What makes the FIA Formula 3 European Championship special, from your point of view?
MV: You are racing against competitors who already have got a lot of motor-racing experience under their belts. The racing is very close, the field is competitive and the level is high.
How do you feel now, being a team member of Van Amersfoort Racing?
MV: I feel really good – and that’s vital. And it also is nice to make my debut in single-seater racing for a Dutch team and to have a Dutch team-mate, Jules Szymkowiak. I have known Jules for quite a while and we even live not far from one another.
Could you please describe your expectations regarding the 2014 season?
|Max Verstappen leading in Hockenheim|
MV: First of all I want to deliver on a constant level and make as few mistakes as possible. Furthermore, I will try to be a part of the front end of the field as often as possible and would love to be a factor in the battles for race wins. But I think that securing the title in my debut season will be difficult.
What circuits on the 2014 calendar are you particularly looking forward to?
MV: Spa is my favorite racetrack. I think that I already know more than 50 percent of the venues on the 2014 calendar and I’m looking forward also getting to know the other circuits, before long.
What did you do in the off-season to prepare for the 2014 season?
MV: As I raced karts with manual gearbox, last year, I had to make some extra exercises for my arms; anyway, I intensified this program in winter and also executed a special neck-training program. In addition, I worked on improving my stamina. And I raced in the Florida Winter Series to also gain more on-track experience. I contested my first single-seater qualifying sessions and races, there – and doing so was of major importance.