Jos Verstappen has reflected on Max’s incredible year at the forefront of Formula 1, in an extensive interview with PlanetF1.com.
Last week, we brought you the first part of our wide-reaching interview with Jos Verstappen – the famous and very proud father of now three-time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen after the 26-year-old wrapped up his third consecutive title.
Looking back over the period in which Verstappen has climbed from being a mere challenger to the crown worn by Lewis Hamilton, only to become the king himself with 19 wins in the most dominant display a driver has ever put on in F1, Jos has given a fascinating insight into what makes his son tick.
Jos Verstappen: Max Verstappen ‘absolutely likes’ the domination
Given that the stable regulations for 2024 mean that, on paper at least, Verstappen remains the title favourite for another year given the extent of Red Bull’s domination in 2023, Jos explained how he’d like to see more competition for his son.
“Of course, we want to win the races but I also like him fighting and then running away with a win, or maybe just not. I think everybody wants to see that,” he said.
“I’m a fan of the sport, I’m a fan of Formula 1. Of course, it’s nice to win 18 or 19 races in the season. But, to win the championship as he did in 2021, I also enjoyed it after all so… why not?”
But is the domination enough of a stimulus for Verstappen? As fun as it is to win race after race, picking up all the resultant glory, is there a chance that the Red Bull driver would like a tougher challenge from another driver elsewhere on the grid?
“He likes this. Absolutely likes the domination,” Jos smiled. The smile widens as I ask whether Max would be interested in committing to a rebuild project if Red Bull did slip back from the very front: “He’s only interested in winning races.”
But, given how Red Bull is moulded around their talismanic Dutch champion, might Max one day have his head turned by another team, particularly if the Milton Keynes-based squad slip up?
What about the lure of Ferrari, McLaren, or Mercedes? With a long-term contract until 2028, is the intention to see out the entirety of his career with Red Bull?
“That’s the plan, I think,” Jos replies.
“To start with Red Bull and finish with Red Bull. That’s what we like. We’re very loyal people.
“They gave us the chance and, as long as they have a good car and with Helmut there – he’s always been a supporter of us. Max has shown that he’s a supporter of Helmut, Red Bull, and people like that. So it would be nice, let’s say.”
So how does he feel about the possibility of Verstappen enjoying potentially the most competitive machine for at least another two seasons?
“We feel that the other ones are coming closer,” he replies.
“[The gap is shrinking], absolutely. So it all depends on what they make in the factory those days and we’ll see for next year.”
Jos Verstappen: I’m too old to do any racing with Max
Given Max’s very public interest in taking on other racing challenges once his F1 career is over, and Jos himself reigniting his motorsport career with some recent rallying appearances, might there one day be the possibility of the two Verstappens partnering up for some racing together?
After all, Kevin Magnussen and his father Jan have taken part in some top-level sportscar races together over the past two years. But Jos reckons the opportunity for him to do the same with Max had already been and gone.
“I’m too old for that! [I’m doing rallying] but it’s different,” he said.
“[The level Max] puts in, it’s something crazy. That’s why I’m feeling too old to do that.
“I know him. I know how I was when I was that young. If he races and competes in different categories, he wants to win as well. To drive it as an old man who’s maybe one to 1.5 seconds too slow. He doesn’t like that. And I wouldn’t like that.
“[He wouldn’t be] angry, but he’d say ‘Come on, Dad!’ I know that it’s like that, and I know he doesn’t like it and I don’t like it. So better not to do it.”
Jos Verstappen: Max picked up what he wanted from me, the rest is all him
Part of what makes Max such a fearsome competitor is his sheer unwavering commitment to what he does – aside from the full focus he gave to the remaining races even after wrapping up the title, the Dutch driver famously spends a lot of his free time taking part in online sim racing.
But where does Max get that committed mentality, and that headstrong assuredness which marks him out from the rest of the field. Is it something Jos took care to instill in him, or has it come as a surprise to even his father?
“It’s his own personality. But I think he has seen me doing things,” Jos replied.
“I showed him my personality, and everybody has their own personality. I think he picks up whatever he picked up on how he wants to be and how you are as a person. So that’s, I think, where that comes from.”
A key component in Verstappen’s success has been the mental strength on display, which Jos believes was visible from the very first days with Red Bull as the teenage Max showed no fear of the intimidating figurehead of Helmut Marko.
“Everybody’s a bit scared of Helmut! But he never had that,” he laughs.
“He said, ‘If I could work with my dad, Helmut is easy!’ So I think that’s how he feels it. I was always clear. I know what I wanted, I know what I wanted from him. We gave everything. That’s how I am. And I think that’s how he is.”
Does Jos view Max’s mental strength as being the key differentiator between him and the other drivers racing in F1 or, indeed, as the main difference between drivers participating at F1 level?
“I think that goes along with ability, how much he thinks he has, his confidence,” he said.
“I think that goes hand in hand a bit.”
With Jos’ long-term efforts to build a Verstappen empire coming to fruition in recent years, the next big challenge facing Max – should he want it – is clocking up the statistics and titles to try a tilt at becoming the sport’s most successful driver and eclipse the win tally of Lewis Hamilton and the equal title tally of Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.
With Hamilton toppled from F1’s pedestal by Verstappen, there seems little chance of F1’s top drivers ever being partnered together at a team. But, if it was to happen, does Jos think Max would enjoy such a challenge?
“I would like to see it,” he answers after pondering the question.
“But I think everybody knows that it will never have a chance in the end. For some people, it would be very enjoyable to watch. But I don’t think… so much happened in 2021, I think, that it is never going to happen.”