Max: Making it to F1 was never life or death

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen podium celebration. Austin October 2021

Max Verstappen holds his trophy in one hand and raises the bottle of champagne in the other. Austin October 2021

Max Verstappen says making it into F1 was never a “a life-or-death situation”, but now that he is here, the dream is to win a World title.

But he has reiterated that if that doesn’t happen, it won’t “change” his world.

At just 24 years of age, Verstappen is contesting his seventh season in Formula 1, the Dutchman holding the record as the youngest ever driver to line up on the grid, doing so when he was just 17.

Following in his father Jos’ footsteps, he admits making it Formula 1 was never the be all and end all for him.

“Sometimes people take F1 too seriously, like it’s a life-or-death situation, thinking ‘If I don’t make it to Formula 1, my life is over,’ or something like that,” he told the New York Times.

“For me, that was never the case and never will be.

“I’m very happy that I am in Formula 1 now, but even if I wasn’t, I would still do something else, racing-related stuff to have fun, to have a good time.”

But having made it into Formula 1, his goal is now to win a first World title.

The Red Bull driver holds a 12-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton in the standings with 133 still in play.

Verstappen has won more grands prix than any other driver this season, eight, and also has more pole positions, nine.

“I know that if my car is fast enough until the end of the season, I will win the championship, but if it’s not, then we probably won’t win it,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s not going to change my world.

“Of course, the goal, the dream is always to win the championship, but you need to have a bit of luck, you need to have the right car for it to be at the right time of the season or across the whole season.”

“I like what I’m doing in F1, and I always try to do the best I can, but there is no additional pressure,” he continued. “I would say if you have a good car it even takes more pressure away.

“It means you can go into a weekend knowing you can have a good result. I think that makes me really calm.”

With five races to go anything can still happen in the championship with pundits predicting the title fight will only be decided on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Aside from a race-winning car, Verstappen acknowledges that everyone at Red Bull has to stay on the ball until then.


“It’s all about the little details that can make a big difference,” he said.

“It’s the general focus of everyone, pit stops, the set up work and preparation before you go into a weekend.”


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