Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff made a statement in Zandvoort, hinting that Max Verstappen had an advantage over teammate Sergio Perez. Wolff suggested that the “tricky” nature of the car made it more suited to Verstappen. When questioned about the disparity between the two drivers, he noted, “We’ve seen that Max has destroyed every single team-mate that was with him.”
Wolff’s comments insinuated that Verstappen’s unique driving style may allow him to control a tricky, yet fast car to achieve those gaps. He said he has no direct explanation, but found the circumstance “Odd”.
Verstappen was quick to assert that he recalibrates his driving style according to the vehicle handed to him so as to yield its maximum potential. He rebuffed the suggestion that the car is tailor-fit to his style, stating, “Bulls*** comments… It’s not like that. I just drive the car I get to the fastest way possible. I’m not there to tell the guys to give me more front end, because that’s how I like it.”
Addressing further doubts, Verstappen said, “People will ask about my driving style? It’s not peculiar, I adapt to what the car needs to go fast.” He added that while each car drives differently, he’ll simply instruct designers to conceive the fastest car and he’ll drive accordingly.
Questions were raised whether his feats with Red Bull in 2023 were being discounted, to which Verstappen responded that producing consistent success isn’t as straightforward as it appears. He noted that while he doesn’t aim to prove anything, he merely strives to give his best with the given resources; expressing the intricate nature of maintaining a high-functioning car and winning every race as a team.
Verstappen touched upon a query regarding Adrian Newey (Red Bull technical chief)’s recent proposition. Newey put Verstappen among F1‘s all-time greats due to his ability to drive on automatic and simultaneously process other aspects. In response, Verstappen took an unassuming stance, emphasising that he participates in F1 to do his best and not to be counted amongst the sport’s legends.
Speaking about the joy of driving, he said, “It’s for sure a very enjoyable time to be driving the car. But every single weekend there are always a lot of things that come up, and you have to optimise.” He opined that while it might seem like he’s on automatic pilot, he’s consistently thinking of multiple processes.
As he stands on the cusp of surpassing Sebastian Vettel’s all-time consecutive win record with a 10th straight victory, Verstappen downplayed the notion despite having previously marvelled at this record. He expressed his detachment from this specific target saying, “I never thought that I would win nine in a row… but it’s more about I want to just win. It’s not about the number 10 in my head.”
For Verstappen, staying focused on the weekend’s race and dealing with the existing complex tyre choices, as opposed to fixating on breaking records, is his current priority.