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.
Whatâ€™s your conclusion after the first race weekend of the season?
MV: The first race didnâ€™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 racingâ€¦
|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 wasnâ€™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 â€“ 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 â€“ and thatâ€™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 Iâ€™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 â€“ and doing so was of major importance.