Arguably the most exciting young talent in Formula One today, Max Verstappen electrifies the Red Bull Racing garage every time he slides into his Hondapowered RB16B racecar. In only his first race for Red Bull, the then-18-year-old took the checkered flag in first place, quickly becoming the youngest—not to mention Holland’s first and only—driver to ever win a Formula One Grand Prix. Five seasons later it’s become clear that only the G.O.A.T. Lewis Hamilton blocks Verstappen from notching his first F1 Championship. The pressure—and glory—all rest on his shoulders.
Of course, the F1 field is flooded with young, hungry talent nipping at the heels of Red Bull’s premier driver, so Verstappen’s got his work cut out. But all signs point to great potential in 2021: the young Dutchman finished last season’s final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi capturing pole position, and led every lap to secure the checkered flag. Overall he finished the 2020 season ahead in the standings of every car not brandishing a Mercedes tri-star on its nose, so Verstappen knows exactly who’s in his crosshairs.
In the first race of the 2021 season in Bahrain Max emerged with a hard-fought second-place finish behind only Hamilton, then followed up by overtaking the current Champion in a stirring victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. We sat down with Red Bull Racing Honda’s Great Young Hope before the season began to discuss all things Formula One.
You finished on a really high note in Abu Dhabi with a victory in the very last race of 2020. How do you feel looking back at that season?
It is always nice to win the final race of the season, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything for the next year. We still have to put a good car on the track and we know that Mercedes will be strong again. They are always very strong, especially from the start, so that’s where we have been lacking in the last few years. I hope that we learn from it and can be more competitive to start this new season.
One of the hardest things for some fans to wrap their head around is how you guys mentally deal with the fact that you’re always competing against a significantly superior car, e.g. Mercedes-AMG.
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