Max Verstappen raises eyebrows with intriguing Ferrari drive completed

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen takes the applause after setting pole position for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen takes the applause after claiming pole position.

Max Verstappen got behind the wheel of a Ferrari 296 GT3 at Mugello, but only as a favour to the son of his manager.

With a free weekend on the Formula 1 schedule between the Brazilian and inaugural Las Vegas GPs, Verstappen was still in his happy place at the wheel of a racing car, in this case a Ferrari.

The Ferrari outing for Verstappen is sure to have some daring to dream that he will one day race in Ferrari red after speculation earlier this year, but this appears to be nothing more than the Dutchman performing a good deed for a close member of his camp.

Max Verstappen passes on “good tips” to Thierry Vermeulen

21-year-old Thierry is active in the sportscar racing scene, having contested the 2023 DTM and the GT World Challenge Sprint campaigns with Swiss outfit Emil Frey Racing.

And there is arguably no better teacher for the day at Mugello than three-time World Champion Verstappen, who has taken Formula 1 dominance to new heights in F1 2023.

“I’m happy to help Thierry,” Verstappen told Blick. “We’re kind of like a big family – and I’m also a GT and sim racing fan.”

While Thierry could be expected to hold ambitions of following Verstappen into the world of Formula 1 down the line, his father Raymond says that is not actually a goal that they are striving for.

Raymond of course knows all about creating a path from the junior series to Formula 1, but says there are “other interesting series” for Thierry to get stuck into, as he is currently doing.

“Max was able to give him some good tips after just a few laps,” said Raymond.

“Formula 1 is not a goal for us. I know the routes to the top – the air is far too thin there. So hands off. There are other interesting series in racing!”

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Max Verstappen tipped to own GT racing team

Verstappen is a driver who has made it clear that he is not one for the glitz and glamour that being an F1 driver can bring to life, his enjoyment coming solely from the racing.

And that is why when he does have some downtime from F1, which he has stressed several times that he would prefer more of, he often can be found in the virtual racing world, or at a real-life track driving a Ferrari of course.

Verstappen has strongly hinted at exploring racing series outside of Formula 1 once his Red Bull deal expires after 2028, Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko confidently predicting that Verstappen will have a GT racing team of his own in the future.

“One day, Max will found his own GT team,” said Marko. “He’s just a real racer.”

While Verstappen is not exactly getting caught up in the hype surrounding F1 2023’s next stop, that being the hotly-anticipated debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, he will nonetheless be pushing for an 18th win of the campaign as the drivers step foot on new territory.

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