I am not a number one driver - Conversation with Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen hopes that his Red Bull outfit can mount a challenge to the field-leading Mercedes this year as interesting updates are expected for the coming races. F1Technical.net’s Balázs Szabó talked to the young Dutchman during the Great Race event in Budapest.

Verstappen was due to carry out simulator work at Red Bull’s headquarters in Milton Keynes on Thursday, but he made a quick stop in Budapest. On the International Workers ’ Day, the Hungarian capital played host to the Great Race event which is a sensational street demonstartion for racing cars of very different nature. Before driving the RB7 in the heart of the beatiful Budapest, Verstappen sat down with journalists.

Click for our report on the event

When asked by f1technical.net what Red Bull needs to do to be in the hunt for the world championship, Verstappen admitted that his team has to lift its performance to join the party at the very front.

„We need to improve our top speed, what we know, but [not just that, but the whole] car,” started his analysi. " We started off well, but not good enough to make a difference. We just keep working hard on them, updates are coming for the next race and then we’ll see how the rest of the season will progress.”

„They [Mercedes] had a great start, [but were] also a bit lucky in Bahrain with Ferrari having problems. It looks a little bit better then they actually are. They did not make any mistakes and that’s why they have scored so many points.”

Not a number one driver

After five years with Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo left the team at the end of last year. His seat was taken over by Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman made his debut at the end of the 2017 season and completed a full championship last year before being promoted to Red Bull following Ricciardo’s unexpected departure.

The Australian has already confessed before this season kicked off that the way Red Bull handled the relationship between its two drivers played a role in his decision which he took last summer. Despite that, Verstappen does not think that he is holding the position of the leading driver inside Red Bull.

„I don’t see myself as a first driver and nobody in the team mentioned that. We both get equal opportunities and I am just doing what I was doing also last year, giving the right feedback back to the team and then it is up to the team to bring new parts. So from myside, not a lot has changed, of course you gain expereince. I would be wrong to change something. It would mean that you were not doing the right things the year before.”

Verstappen can’t see many similarities between his new and old team-mate. „Daniel is from Australia and Pierre is from France,” he cheekily compared his competition.

Steep learning curve

The five-time GP winner said that everyone can learn from mistakes. The blunder which he has learnt the most from dates back to his karting days when he failed to deliver in a championship-deciding round. „There have been quite a few. I think back in the go-karting days, there was one, I made a mistake and crashed out from a good position, that was very painful at that time, so I think that one was for me the biggest learning curve.”

Despite to his young age, Verstappen has already completed 85 races during his Formula One career making him the driver with the 87th most race starts. He is sure that he can still improve himself as a driver.

„You always improve as a driver, even Lewis is still improving, so it depends on how hungry you are to keep improving. Of course, from the first year to your second year, you learn a lot about how to drive a Formula One car. When you go into your fifth season, I think it is definitely more about general experiences with the car. Doing more races makes you improve.”