Exclusive interview with Max: 'We've maximised our points'

Published on 05 October 2019 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen was one of the key guests at the 2019 edition of Exact Life. Despite his busy schedule at the event, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver made time for an in-depth interview with Verstappen.nl.

Does this season live up to you expectations?
“I think the first part of the season went better than expected with those two wins. You’d think it would get even better in the second half of the season but it hasn’t really happened for us thus far. The last couple of races weren’t great but the start of the season was positive.”

How do you rate your own performance in 2019?
“I’m mainly happy that generally speaking, we maximised our points compared to last year. In 2018 we left a lot of points on the table in the first six races. It’s been a lot better this year.”

Thus far, you have not had a DNF due to technical reasons. Does that surprise you?
“I kind of expected to have a few technical DNFs. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but in a first year with Honda, things can always go wrong. Luckily it’s been good on the reliability front. Honda have done a great job with that.”

At the Hungaroring you claimed you first pole position of your F1 career. A relief?
“Not really a relief. More a really good and nice feeling.”

Ferrari made a huge step over the summer break. Red Bull appears to be the third team. How do you view this in light of the 2020 season?
“I remain positive. Of course, we expected a bit more but next year is a new opportunity. Everyone is working hard to start the next year well, so let’s see.”

As you mentioned previously, this is Red Bull Racing’s first season with Honda. How do you reflect on the partnership so far?
“They are realistic. They are happy with the reliability but they want to improve.”

On the topic of reliability, what is your take on the grid penalty system? Do you think it should stay?
“I’d rather have this system than starting the race with a time penalty. I’d rather start at the back and work my way through the order. It means you’ve completed your penalty and can go about making the most of a race.”

In an attempt to make Formula 1 more entertaining, the FIA is hoping to test alternate
qualifying formats, reverse grids and qualifying races. What is your take on these ideas?

“Us drivers had a meeting with the Formula 1 owners. We spoke a lot about what we want as drivers. Nothing has been decided but we don’t want something like American wrestling were everything is artificial and fake. We made clear that is not what we want. I think qualifying is good the way it is. I wouldn’t know how to change it.”

This is your fifth year in Formula 1. What positive changes have been made to the sport during your career?
“The cars are faster and more fun to driver compared to my first year. That’s the best change in my opinion, despite overtaking now being more difficult.”

What is your take on the 2021 proposed regulation changes?
“It’s looking good. Currently, the cars would be three seconds per lap slower. That’s quite a lot. But I think the cars have to be lighter, but that’s difficult to do with the hybrid power-units and the batteries.”

Should there be a more level playing field?
“Yes and no. Formula 1 become popular because manufacturers took each other on. It is also good for the development of road car technology. It’s good PR for Mercedes if they beat Ferrari and for Red Bull Formula 1 is marketing. But it would be good to make it a bit more even but not completely.”

How much has Adrian Newey’s involvement changed in the last few years?
“I think he’s involved a lot, especially with 2021. But the regulations are very limiting. That’s not ideal but compared to a few year’s ago, I think he’s more involved.”