After making his way up through the Dutch national karting ranks and capping off his stellar career with this years’ CIK-FIA KZ World Championship, Max Verstappen looks set to make his first steps into car racing in 2014. We sat down and chatted with the youngster about karting, his background and his future plans?
Firstly, congratulations on being crowned this years CIK-FIA KZ World Championship. It seemed like a fairly straightforward weekend for you, was that the case?
Thank you very much. Every weekend you have to work very hard. That weekend you could see that the slipstream was key and unfortunately I did not have the best circumstances, so we started the Super Pole in third place. It was definitely a surprise to win by three seconds, but it was a great feeling to win the world championship.
Is this championship more special than the rest?
Yeah, I think so. We worked really hard this year and it was very special to me as we were using an engine prepared by my father and I know how much work went into it.
You first taste of a racing car came at Pembrey in August with Manor MP Motorsport. How did that go and what were your initial impressions?
I think it went very well. Firstly, I didn?t know what to expect, as I had never driven a racing car before. But I felt very comfortable after ten laps and was really able to push the car to its limits. The weather conditions were not the best, but it was a great experience overall.
You tested at the end of season test day for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 with KTR at Barcelona. How did that go?
Barcelona was disappointing for us. We only had one day with KTR and unfortunately we had a problem in the afternoon session which took away an hour and half?s running.
What was the problem exactly?
I was really struggling with oversteer and the throttle was always sticking at 20% when we were braking. It was caused by a spring behind the throttle. The morning session was not too bad but with the limited running in the afternoon, all we could do was throw on some new tires and try to get a good lap in despite the issues.
You recently tested at the Hungaroring with Tech 1 Racing and were, unofficially, the fastest driver of the day. How did that feel?
That was a very good day for us. [Egor] Orudzhev was also testing and he had some very strong results as of late, so we were able to compare ourselves to a very good driver. We also had [Pierre] Gasly?s data from earlier this season, but, for sure, when you are faster than the official fastest time for the Formula Renault 2.0 car at a track it is very satisfying.
Who has been your biggest rival in your karting career?
I think every year you are going to have a different rival when racing in different categories. This past season there was always someone else each racing weekend, but there really hasn?t been anyone special that I’ve loved to race against in particular.
Do you have any further tests planned in 2013?
Yes, we have a few more. Obviously we’ve done all of the official tests and will continue with several more days before Christmas. I will be testing at Spa-Francorchamps with Josef Kaufmann Racing soon, which I’m really looking forward to.
Obviously, fans of Formula 1 will recognise your last name, after your father Jos raced in F1 from 1994 to 2003. How has he helped you in your career in so far?
He has definitely helped me a lot, especially in karting. He has always steered me in the right direction. Sometimes when kids are starting out, they make mistakes and end up on the wrong route, but he made mistakes when he was younger and he knows what the best direction is. We took it and it has panned out very well so far!
After such a stellar career in go-karts, it is only natural that you have been linked with several F1 junior schemes. Have you been contacted about any of them?
Yeah, of course, we have had talks with some teams, but it is still far too early to make a decision as I haven?t even raced in a racing car yet.
Finally, how are the 2014 plans coming along? Will we be seeing you in Formula Renault 2.0?
Yes, I think we will most likely be in Formula Renault. We’ve now tested with all of the top teams, so I’m 90% sure that is where we will be, but we will also test in several other categories and then make the right decision for me.