Dutchman Max Verstappen is the sixteen-year-old son of former Benetton, Simtek, Arrows and Minardi F1 driver Jos Verstappen. He is already racing in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing, and took his first podium finish in just his third start in the series.
He did admit to the official FIA European Formula 3 Championship website that the series was not in his original plans for where he was to race in 2014.
“The original plan was to race in Formula Renault 2.0,” said Verstappen. “But then I was offered the chance of testing a Formula 3 single-seater and the car was just great. It produces more grip than a Formula Renault car and therefore, its cornering speed is higher.
“Driving it was just more fun and in addition, I wasn’t exactly slow. And why I opted for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship? Well, this series offers me the chance of contesting many races – three races on each of the 11 race weekends. These 33 races will allow me to gather a lot of experience. And this experience will be crucial if I want to work my way up on the motor-racing ladder.
“You are racing against competitors who already have got a lot of motor-racing experience under their belts. The racing is very close, the field is competitive and the level is high.”
Coming straight from Karting, Verstappen has made a giant leap up, though many would agree that the leap was necessary. The teenager admits though the training he had to do to prepare himself for racing with the F3 cars was intense.
“As I raced karts with manual gearbox, last year, I had to make some extra exercises for my arms; anyway, I intensified this programme in winter and also executed a special neck-training program,” added Verstappen. “In addition, I worked on improving my stamina. And I raced in the Florida Winter Series to also gain more on-track experience. I contested my first single-seater qualifying sessions and races, there – and doing so was of major importance.”
Verstappen joined the team that his father raced for before he moved into Formula 1, and he is happy to be racing for a Dutch team this year, a move that he feels will help him adjust better to the F3 formula, though he doubts he will be able to give the team the drivers’ title in 2014.
“I feel really good [to be a part of Van Amersfoort Racing] – and that’s vital. And it also is nice to make my debut in single-seater racing for a Dutch team and to have a Dutch team-mate, Jules Szymkowiak. I have known Jules for quite a while and we even live not far from one another.
“First of all I want to deliver on a constant level and make as few mistakes as possible. Furthermore, I will try to be a part of the front end of the field as often as possible and would love to be a factor in the battles for race wins. But I think that securing the title in my debut season will be difficult.”
He made his series debut in Silverstone and impressed many by his maturity and overtaking prowess. He moved from fifth on the grid to an impressive second place finish in race three.
“The first race didn’t run the way I hoped it would. I had clutch problems right from the start and in addition, I was involved in a collision. Race two was rather okay and I could be pleased with having finished fifth. In race three, however, things went even better: I made a good start and could battle it out for the top positions right away. And it goes without saying that I was delighted with having finished second.”