Max Verstappen has “accepted” he is unable to become World Champion just yet – but insists playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton can still be enjoyable.
Barring a miracle or unforeseen misfortune to Hamilton, the Red Bull driver cannot now usurp Sebastian Vettel as Formula 1’s youngest ever World Champion with his last chance of breaking that record being this year.
Indeed, with the sport’s major regulation changes having been postponed until 2022, it looks as though next season could be another campaign of Mercedes domination with Red Bull aspiring to challenge them.
It’s a situation Verstappen has become used to, however reluctantly, but he knows it is largely out of his control and that he should be happy as long as he and the team have done the maximum to extract whatever they can from their own performance.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) October 25, 2020
“You just have to accept the situation you’re in, because otherwise you would become a very frustrated person if you don’t accept it, so that’s what I did,” said Verstappen in the press conference after finishing third to Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
“I come to a grand prix, I always try to get the best out of it and it’s a good motivation. I can enjoy third or second if I know I push myself to the limit, I push the car to the limit and I know the team did everything they could.
“Like again, I think [in Portugal] the guys did a few amazing pit stops again. Stuff like that motivates me but also motivates them. I take my enjoyment out of that. And at the end of the day, yeah, I mean everyone loves winning, but if it’s not possible, it’s not possible.”
The tag of ‘youngest World Champion’ is not one that means much to him, says Verstappen.
“I don’t think that when I’m 40 or 50 years old I will care a lot about those kind of things,” added the 23-year-old Dutchman.
“I just want to look back when I’m at that stage, when I’m 40 or 50, and I look at myself in the mirror and say ‘did you get the most out of yourself?’
“If you can say yes, then I’m happy about that because if that means you win seven titles or whatever or zero, you need a bit of luck for that as well, to be at the right team at the right time.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that but we’ll see. I still have a few years ahead of me, so hopefully things will change.”