When Formula 1 returned to Turkey in 2020, Max Verstappen was only able to finish sixth in a turbulent race. The Dutchman believes: “This year everything will be a little different.”
When Max Verstappen flew away from Istanbul in 2020, the feeling gnawed at him: There would have been more in this race. The Red Bull Racing star started the race from second on the grid behind Lance Stroll, but right at the start Max fell back to eighth because he was struggling with spinning wheels while accelerating in first gear. Most of the opponents chose second gear to drive off on the slippery track and were therefore able to start more efficiently. After an extremely chaotic Grand Prix, Verstappen was sixth in the end – the only race in 2020 in which he was unable to achieve a podium finish when he crossed the finish line.
Max looks back: “Istanbul 2020 was not the best weekend for us, but this year everything is a little different.” On the one hand, the asphalt is not as new as it was a year ago and should offer more grip, on the other hand the temperatures are higher and Pirelli has softer tire compounds in their luggage. Verstappen says: “Basically, slope conditions are the same for everyone. But I’m sure the piste will be in a completely different condition this time. The track here is really fabulous, one of my favorite tracks when I drive a simulation, unfortunately we weren’t able to show everything last year because it was so slippery.”
Above all, however, Verstappen has a car this year with which he can have a say a word or two about victory every time, so that must also be possible on the Istanbul Park race track. Max about the coming days: “I think the pendulum will swing back and forth between us and Mercedes, some slopes will be more towards our car, others our opponents.”
What does Max actually say about the special paintwork of his Red Bull Racing racer in honor of Honda? Verstappen: “I think this basic white color is really cool. In general, I always find it exciting when we race in other colors. But this time it’s very special. We wanted to say thank you to Honda in Suzuka, unfortunately we cannot travel to Japan due to Corona. So we said to each other – let’s do it anyway! I really like that.”
How is the mood in the Red Bull Racing team? «Calm and focused, basically the same as always. I’m not thinking that the World Cup will be over in ten weeks. I am fully focused on my tasks.”
On the subject of pressure, Max says: “My goal is always the same – I do my best. If that’s enough for the title, then that would be fabulous. But if I should come in second in the end, but haven’t done anything wrong, then I can live with it. World champion or not world champion, that doesn’t turn my life upside down. I’m completely left there.”
Unusual question from a Turkish Formula 1 fan to Max: Who would he support if he weren’t a GP driver himself? Max says: “Fernando Alonso – simply because I like his driving style.”