Although the “desperate must win” is no longer apart of Max Verstappen’s thinking, the Dutchman has warned that doesn’t mean he’s any less motivated ahead of the 2022 season.
Verstappen won the Drivers’ Championship title last season, claiming the crown with a last-lap-of-the-championship pass on Lewis Hamilton.
It was the perfect ending to his best-ever season in Formula 1, Verstappen doubling his tally of race wins to 20 and also taking 10 pole positions.
It was by no means an easy stroll even though midway through the season, as he lined up on the grid for the British Grand Prix with a 33-point lead, it looked as if it was shaping up that way.
However, a crash at Silverstone followed by another in Hungary meant he went into the summer break trailing Hamilton by eight points.
Momentum swung back and forth between the two leading to a perfect scenario, at least for Formula 1, when the two lined up for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tied on points.
108 million fans tuned in to watch the showdown, Verstappen walking away with the World title.
This season, with the number ‘1’ on his Red Bull RB18, the 24-year-old says he is as motivated as ever to retain the title, even if the desperation to win is no longer a factor.
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 7, 2022
“I will always want to win,” he told the Daily Mail, “but the desperate “must win” is gone.
“It doesn’t mean I am less motivated. I have the same level of motivation, maybe more, to do it again.
“It feels nice. It is a relaxation. There is less of a rush.
“I was already in my seventh season. I had never really had a shot at the title before. I had my first chance and, of course, I wanted desperately to do it. Winning a championship is one of those things that doesn’t happen often. It may never happen again, who knows?
“Wearing the golden shoes (made for him by Puma to mark his title-winning feat) is a way of celebrating a special moment. You have to enjoy it.
“I remember when I was watching on TV when I was go-karting as a boy and there was a podium celebration and the national anthem was playing and my dad (former F1 driver Jos) said to me, “That’s where we need to go”, and I said “I’d like that”.
“Now I need some luck, the right car, to do it again.
“For now, I am happy.”
Last week Red Bull announced that Verstappen had put pen to paper on a new extension, one that will keep him at the Milton Keynes team until the end of 2028.
The deal is said to be worth £40m per season although Red Bull have refused to confirm that.
Verstappen no longer has desperate must win mentality
He claims to be no less motivated, but the must win mentality is now satisfied for Max Verstappen.