Dubai: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has said consistency is the key, if he is to be among the challengers for the Formula 1 title this season.
Speaking to CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, last weekend’s winner of the prestigious Emirates Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the Silverstone, Verstappen admitted he was proud to be compared to the great Michael Schumacher by the legendary Ross Brawn, who won eight Constructors’ Championships and eight Drivers’ Championships with various teams unitil his retirement.
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“So far, we’ve had one race where we were, maybe, the fastest car, but all the other ones we weren’t. So we just have to stay realistic at the moment,” the Dutch driver cautioned.
Now 22, Verstappen is among the new breed of drivers posing a challenge to the Mercedes duo of reigning six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valterri Bottas. However, the driver with Dutch and Belgian nationality still trails reigning world champion Hamilton by 30 points.
At the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen became the youngest driver to compete in Formula One aged 17 years and 166 days. He holds eight other ‘firsts’ in F1, including the youngest driver to lead a lap, youngest to set the fastest lap, youngest to score points, youngest to secure a podium and youngest Grand Prix winner in history.
Verstappen finished the 2019 championship in third place, ahead of both Ferrari drivers. He is due to remain at Red Bull until the end of the 2023 season following a recent extension of his contract with the team. But despite all this, he doesn’t see his Red Bull team challenging Mercedes for the crown during the remaining eight races this season.
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“From my side, I’m not thinking about a possible championship at the moment. I just want to try and do the best I can every single weekend,” he said.
Last week, Brawn – who retired from the sport in February 2014 – compared Verstappen to Schumacher. “It was of course very nice, but I don’t like to compare myself to anyone because I’m myself and I’m a different driver. Of course, you can always get some similar attitudes or whatever, or you can get compared sometimes but, from my side, I never do that. I just want to be myself,” said Verstappen.
Verstappen fully backed the sport’s “We Race As One” initiative driven by reigning champion Hamilton. “It’s gone well in terms of how we are expressing it but, of course, at the end of the day it’s about actions as well.
“We just keep showing our support, because I think everybody is in support, which is very important, and time will tell of course what’s going to happen.”
The Red Bull driver admitted he has been in constant touch with Hamilton about the campaign. “Of course, we talk about it. We have our driver briefings but then also we stay on, of course, because we are all members of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association),” he said. “Everybody’s very open and everybody is very supportive, and everybody wants exactly the same thing.
“I think Lewis appreciates that, and it’s not only Lewis who has to appreciate that, it’s the whole world. That’s what we are doing, we are just trying to show our support.”