Max Verstappen was the darling of the crowd as he won his home Dutch Grand Prix – but anonymity would be just fine with him.
The 23-year-old has built up a huge following of instantly recognisable supporters, clad in orange and displaying prominently Verstappen’s race number of 33.
However, the Red Bull driver is not one to go seeking recognition, especially away from the circuit, and even his celebrations after winning the first F1 race in the Netherlands during his lifetime were distinctly reserved – aside from wrapping himself in the national flag.
Dressing flamboyantly to attend awards ceremonies, film premieres etc is not Verstappen’s thing and he freely admits he prefers to live a normal life away from the Formula 1 circus.
“I love, of course, having support. It’s not going to give me lap time, but it brings a smile on my face,” Verstappen told reporters.
“I think as a driver, you shouldn’t really think about [attention] too much, you just have to focus on what you have to do on-track because at the end of the day, that made this [Dutch Grand Prix] happen. You should never forget that.”
Asked if he would like anonymity, he replied: “Oh, I would prefer to not be known. Just to be yourself, you [can] walk around wherever you want to go with your friends.
“But I also know it’s a part of Formula 1, and I knew that already from when I was very little, seeing other drivers have this.
“But it’s fine. I mean, I live, it’s all good.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) September 5, 2021
Having resisted any urge to go too crazy with his celebrations in the party-like atmosphere following his Zandvoort triumph, Verstappen was asked by Channel 4 whether winning in front of his home crowd had sunk in.
“Probably not yet, maybe more at the end of the season,” he said. “But I also know there are a few tracks coming up where I know Mercedes will be very strong.
“It will go a bit back and forth. I’m still enjoying the moment of winning here but of course, also looking ahead.
“It’s all in tiny details where you can make a difference and we need to make sure we keep doing it every single weekend.”
Asked how he would celebrate the win, Verstappen gave another glimpse of his life outside F1.
“I go home,” he replied. “I’ve been away for over two weeks and honestly I just want to get home, see my cats – they have probably destroyed the whole apartment!
“[I’ll] probably do some renovation, chill out a bit and get ready for Monza.”
The Planet F1 verdict:
Max Verstappen looked like a World Champion in waiting
At his home race, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looked like a World Champion in waiting.