Max Verstappen is hoping the summer break has given him the re-set he needed to attack for the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship after he lost the lead in the table to Lewis Hamilton after a disappointing Hungarian Grand Prix.
Verstappen was caught up in the first lap crash caused by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Valtteri Bottas, and with a heavily damaged RB16B, the Red Bull Racing driver could only take ninth place at the Hungaroring, while Hamilton took second place.
The Dutchman sits just eight points behind his rival despite the disappointment of Hungary, while he has also lost significant points thanks to retirements in the Azerbaijan and British Grand Prix.
Verstappen says he is well prepared for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, which is his favourite track on the calendar, and he is also excited by the prospect of running in front of a lot of Dutch fans who will make the short trip across the border to support him.
“I am of course excited to go back to Spa, it’s my favourite track and it’s really cool to drive with so many high speed corners and elevation changes,” said Verstappen. “I’m also looking forward to seeing all the fans who will be coming to support us, and it will be cool to see so much orange in the grandstands again as they couldn’t be there last year.
“I also think it is a good place to re-set our championship fight and I’m well prepared and feeling good ahead of the weekend.
“My summer break was good, it was nice to have a few weeks off to rest a bit and of course it was cool to spend some time on the jet skis, it’s a lot of fun being on the water! It feels good to be back, a triple header is a lot of races in a row but it’s the same for everyone and there are a lot of fun tracks coming up to look forward to.”
The Belgian Grand Prix will mark fifty races since Red Bull and Honda became partners, and Verstappen says that they will be able to look back at their partnership with fondness, with many positive and emotional moments since they united back in 2019.
“These fifty races with Honda will always be special and well-remembered when we look back,” said Verstappen. “I think of course the first win with Honda will always be the most emotional memory during our time together and hopefully we can end this season on a high with them before they leave the sport.
“I have enjoyed working with Honda from the start. They have always been straight talking and delivered what we have expected. They spend a lot of time discussing everything with the Team and us as drivers which has been very important.”
“I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the car” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez says he is hungry to get the second half of the season started this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps as he continues to adapt to life at Red Bull.
The Mexican has already tasted victory with Red Bull thanks to his win in Azerbaijan, but he has yet to show the kind of consistency the team would be after, particularly when Verstappen is fighting race after race at the front of the field.
However, Pérez feels he is getting more and more comfortable behind the wheel of the RB16B, and he believes better results are just around the corner.
“I’m very hungry! Not just for Spa but for the second half of the season,” said Pérez. “I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the car, we’re taking the right steps forward and I think we’re going to have a strong end to the season.
“It was a good time to recharge, get some fresh air, and having two weeks in the same place is always nice! I managed to switch off completely from F1 which is important. both mentally and physically.
“Now I’m back, fully refreshed and it’s going to be a very intense second part of the season. It’s crazy to think in four months the season will be over.”
Pérez says driving a Formula 1 car around Spa-Francorchamps is ‘a lot of fun’, and he knows the weather can also play its part in what could potentially be an exciting Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
“With these cars it’s a lot of fun to drive and a very fast track,” he said. “The weather can be temperamental around Spa and because the circuit is so long it can be dry in some parts but wet in others which makes the conditions tricky to judge.”