Max Verstappen says he and Red Bull will still “feel good” even if they fail to win the World Championship this season.
With just seven races to go in the 2021 campaign, the Dutchman leads Lewis Hamilton by five points at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, while his team are P2 in the Constructors’, 18 points behind Mercedes.
Given the fact Verstappen is currently leading and has arguably had a stronger car than the seven-time World Champion over the course of the year, failing to secure his first title would be a big blow.
While he says he does, of course, want to triumph this season, doing so before the regulation changes does not give him any extra motivation and he thinks he and his team will be happy at the end of the year regardless.
“For me personally, that doesn’t really matter too much,” he told Autocar when asked if beating Mercedes before the new regulations come into play would be particularly satisfying.
“You want to win every single year, right? But of course, in the last few years Mercedes have been very dominant. And I think how we’ve turned things around together with Honda compared to last year is already a great achievement. But now you’re fighting for the championship, you also want to finish it off in the best way possible.
“It would be great [to win the title] this year, but if it doesn’t work out and we can say we have a good car and we have a chance, it will feel good as well.
“I think every time you’re in a fight in general, you know that makes you feel good already.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) September 23, 2021
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That is not to say Verstappen does not care about becoming a World Champion though.
In fact, the 23-year-old says since he started karting, he dreamed not only about making it to F1 but about winning titles once he was there.
“It’s been a goal my whole life since karting,” he said.
“You dream of getting to Formula 1 but you’re there to win, not just to compete. At some point, you hope to be able to fight for the title, and let’s say you get that opportunity and win, it would basically complete the mission.
“But I know it won’t be easy, so we just need to keep being very focused and looking at it race by race and then see where we end up.”