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Monday, September 26, 2022

Verstappen “relaxed” to become F1’s new hegemon

Even if he has found himself in a position of dominance in Formula 1 like to that of Senna, Schumacher, and Hamilton, Max Verstappen believes he is not changing at all.

The current world champion appears to be cruising to his second straight drivers’ championship at a canter, solidifying his place among the top 15 earners in sports.

Verstappen, a 24-year-old Dutchman, claims that it isn’t boosting his ego.

“I’m busy with my job and outside of that I just live my life,” he told Sporza Sportweekend.

“I feel good in my skin,” Verstappen added. “I don’t think too much about who I am outside of that.

“I focus on what I have to focus on to perform and beyond that I live my life in a relaxed way.”

Verstappen is completely aware of the kind of buzz he is building at Formula 1 tracks and among the larger sporting community, despite his attitude.

“Of course you are sometimes already feeling more experienced in this sport, but I try to keep that under control as much as possible,” he said.

“Some things are just part of it, but I think the best thing is when I can get in the car and just do my thing.”

Like Schumacher or Fernando Alonso, Verstappen has no ambitions to continue racing long into his forties.

“In the end it will only be like this for 10 to 15 years and then it will stop,” he said. “I started very young so I don’t see myself racing as a 40-year-old.

“Hopefully they all leave me alone after that,”

If his drive to win wanes, he even leaves the door open to quitting even earlier.

“If you don’t have that anymore, the motivation to race is gone for me,” said the Dutchman. “Ultimately, winning is the most important thing there is.

“It’s about crossing the line first and that comes at the cost of a lot.”

He even puts into context the kinds of super-charged rivalries that athletes deal with, like his fierce conflict in 2021 with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

“In general I get on well with everyone, but on the track you just want to beat everyone, although there must always be respect,” he said.

At the end, he won that hard-won battle – but insists nothing much else changed for him.

“Not really,” he said. “Except that my biggest goal has already been achieved and that gives me peace of mind.

“I still like winning, but you have to be able to put things into perspective if you don’t win. Ultimately you have to analyse why you lose. That’s the most important.”

Verstappen won the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend while wearing a helmet livery honoring his well-known father Jos, whom Max attributes for his growth as a person and a driver.

“I used to travel a lot with my father and he was quite hard on me at the time,” he recalls. “Some people can’t handle that, but I needed it.

“I have a lot of confidence now because of that, but I also know that it can always be better.”

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