Despite the chance to achieve his childhood dream of winning a world title, a real chance this season, Verstappen will take it all in stride.
There’s a certain pressure to be a championship leader, especially when you’re breathing down the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, but it’s not the pressure that Verstappen feels.
“Honestly, it doesn’t make any difference,” the Red Bull driver actually told CNN Sport reporter Amanda Davis. “We’ve always wanted to be here and now that we have a very competitive package, we’re very happy that this is going to happen and now we have to stick to it.
“I mean, it’s still a very long season, we’re not even halfway there. Of course the space looks good right now, probably on paper, but it’s also easily overcome. So we just have to make sure let us not make a mistake and stay on top of it.
“I never really look at these things. At the end of the day, they don’t really make a big difference in terms of how I feel.”
Still at the age of 23, this is a testament to Verstappen’s mental strength, as he was able to win all three of his last races after his inconvenience at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which put him down five laps from the end due to a wheel failure.
But as Azerbaijan has undoubtedly taught him, all that labor can be restored in an instant.
“I don’t enjoy it right now, to be honest, no more than what I’ve been doing for the last few years,” Verstappen says. “Because I know he’s not saying anything right now.
“I want to be present at that last race and finish it that way, because of course you can be happy right now, but then if you lose at the end of the year, then there’s nothing to be happy about.
“So that’s why I’m neutral in everything and I just focus on what I have to do.”
No one has ever questioned Verstappen’s championship credentials as a driver, so far in his six years of work the general consensus was that it was the Red Bull car that disappointed him.
But this season, that seems to have changed.
The Red Bull, led by team chief director Christian Horner, improved significantly on last year’s car and eventually gave Verstappen a vehicle capable of overtaking Hamilton and Mercedes.
“The team, including Christian, they are focusing on the car that was given to me this year and now we’re just doing very well together,” Verstappen said.
“I think we’ve actually taken a good step forward since last year and now it’s all about that [and] improves because we can’t just rely on what we have now until the end of the season. We should try to get better.
“You have to be positive, too, but we know they are [Mercedes] there will be very strong [Silverstone], they are bringing upgrades so it won’t be easy. I am confident that we can do a good job here as well. “
The UK GP will be the first three races of the season this weekend to showcase the new qualifying format.
There will still be a regular one-hour qualifying session, but it will only determine the starting positions of the sprint qualifying session, not the race itself.
It will be this new qualifying sprint session, the 100-kilometer run, in the 17th lap, that will be how drivers line up for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
The scores, which are calculated to the total score of the drivers ’championship, are also given to the three best drivers in the sprint race, three for first place, two for second and one for third.
“I’m actually very broad-minded,” Verstappen says of the new format. “I’m not against it, at the moment I’m not in favor of it. I just want to see how it goes. It’s very new.”
“Of course, it’s a bit of a reform in terms of how you treat the whole weekend. But I think time will tell, we’ll just figure out how it’s going.”
“It’s hard to say right now [if it will impact the race]. After FP1 [first practice], you make your changes to qualify and can no longer modify the machine, so hopefully you make the right changes.
“So, you’ll know a little bit during a sprint run or a qualifying race whether it’s good or not – and if it’s not good, then you’re in trouble.”
https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/16/motorsport/max-verstappen-red-bull-formula-one-lewis-hamilton-spt-intl/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fedition_sport+%28RSS%3A+CNNi+-+Sport%29 | Max Verstappen says ‘it doesn’t make any difference’ to be leading F1 championship