F1: Verstappen backing off to go faster
By Chris Medland | RACER magazine and RACER.com F1 correspondent
Max Verstappen says he has backed off how hard he pushes at times in order to deliver the run of form that continued with victory in the Mexican Grand Prix.
A crash during FP3 in Monaco saw Verstappen start from the back of the grid and miss out on a big opportunity for victory, leading to team principal Christian Horner suggesting the Dutchman may need to change his approach. Verstappen insists the only change he has made since then has been to remember feedback from his father Jos during his karting days, which has led to fewer mistakes.
“The difference is I just listen to myself,” Verstappen said. “I do my own thing — even if there are a lot of things written, I really don’t care.
“My dad always told me in go-karting, back in the day, if I was maybe overdriving or something, he would always tell me, ‘Max, even if you think you are not going fast enough, it’s still fast enough.’ So basically, for my feeling, I just backed it out a little bit and that seems to make me a bit faster.”
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That approach has seen Verstappen win twice and pick up a further six podiums since Monaco, with his latest triumph being a repeat of his 2017 win in Mexico.
Mexico City suits Red Bull more than its driver, Verstappen says. (Image by Andy Hone/LAT)
“What’s good for us, at this track, it’s a lot about mechanical grip and the aero is a little bit less important — but also the top speed is not that important compared to other tracks, so we are not losing out that much on the straight, and it suits our car much better.
“We make up a lot of time through the corners. That makes us competitive. I enjoy driving here but I don’t really think this track is a particular favorite of mine in terms of my driving style or whatever. Of course, when your car works well, you can have a good result.”
Verstappen’s victory in Mexico leaves him fifth in the drivers’ championship but just 11 points behind Valtteri Bottas and 20 adrift of third-placed Kimi Raikkonen with two rounds remaining.
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ABOUT CHRIS MEDLAND
While studying Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris managed to talk his way into working at the British Grand Prix in 2008 and was retained for three years before joining ESPN F1 as Assistant Editor. After three years at ESPN, a spell as F1 Editor at Crash Media Group was followed by the major task of launching F1i.com’s English-language website and running it as Editor. Present at every race since the start of 2014, he has continued building his freelance portfolio, working with international titles. As well as writing for RACER, he contributes to BBC 5Live and Sky Sports in the UK as well as working with titles in Japan and the Middle East.