Max Verstappen: “Going back to Spain will always mean a lot to me”

Max Verstappen returns to Spain this weekend, one year on from his amazing first Grand Prix victory - Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen returns to the scene of his maiden Formula 1 race victory this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and he is ready for the first true European race of the 2017 season.

The Red Bull Racing driver is happy to be back in familiar territory this weekend, with Red Bull’s Energy Stations providing space to relax and chill out, something that has been lacking in the flyaway races of Australia, China, Bahrain and Russia.

“We’re finally back in Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix which is exciting, especially so for me this year,” said Verstappen. “It means familiar food and more of a normal, comforting driver room with the Energy Station there. You get to chill out and prepare in your own room which is worth a lot if you’re travelling as much as we do.”

The Spanish Grand Prix of 2016 was Verstappen’s first with Red Bull having been switched into the team from sister outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso following the previous round in Russia, and he started his career with the team with an amazing victory, finishing just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.

“Around this time last year I got the call to join Red Bull Racing, which was a great feeling, and then when it got announced everything happened really fast,” said Verstappen. “I spent a lot of time in the factory getting prepared in the simulator in order to get used to the car. A lot of media attention, but I wasn’t really nervous, just happy that I was finally driving for a top team.

“Last year was such a special race to me and in the end we managed to pull it off. It was an incredible feeling once I passed the finish line, especially in your first race with a new team.”

Verstappen admits going back to Spain this year will be very special for the Dutch teenager, and he hopes the upgrades Red Bull are bringing to Spain will see the gap close to the Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the front of the field.

“Going back to Spain will always mean a lot to me,” said Verstappen. “Track wise I really like Turn 3 as it’s flat and quite a long corner so that’s good neck training. 

“We have to wait and see what the updates will bring. I hope we can be a bit closer to the top teams or that we can at least follow them. That would already be a good step forward.”