Max Verstappen candid: “My children are allowed to race, but I would do it differently than my father and I did at the time”

“An interview with The Limburger? No! We’re not going to.” Max Verstappen himself laughs and beckons us to enter the Red Bull Racing team truck somewhere on a square in the middle of Milton Keynes. While 30,000 race fans outside are nickel-and-dating at the fences of the demonstration event where the driver drives his last laps of 2022, Verstappen uses the front cabin of the trailer to warm up between show runs. So no luxury hospitality today. The Limburger thinks it’s all fine. He is in a good mood and, as always, in for a joke. Especially today, because this is officially his last working day of 2022.

How happy are you about that?

“It is very nice that after a long and beautiful season there is a period of rest. Doing nothing. That is also pleasant for your body. No stress for a while. After Christmas we will go on holiday, after which the focus will be on next season can.”

It will start again in two months. If China is replaced, a record 24 races will be completed next year.

“I have often indicated that that is too much and the main reason that I will not continue to do this until I am forty. The many trips and such, that is just not healthy. I still really like it now, but you have to do a lot It sounds crazy because driving Formula 1 is of course a dream for many people, but it really is. You are away from home and the people you love a lot. There comes a time when you are done with that are.”

You are now 25 and have a contract until 2028. You have sometimes said that it could just be over by then. Fans are seriously concerned about that.

“But that’s really the case. When I’m done with it, I’ll stop. It’s that simple. But for the same money I still enjoy it a lot and I’ll continue for another year or two. As a Formula 1 driver driver then, hey. I will definitely keep racing, but then I will do other things.”

If you stop, that will also be a big blow to Formula 1 in the Netherlands. Then that probably means the end of the Grand Prix in Zandvoort and hardly anyone watches the races on TV anymore. A lot depends on you. Do you ever think about that?

“Do you know what I really hope? That as a driver I have been able to inspire and motivate the young Dutch generation in recent years in such a way that new talent may be ready by the time I stop. It used to be said that it was impossible for the Dutch to make it to Formula 1. It’s not. If you accelerate, it doesn’t matter where you come from. I hope when I’m 31 there’s just another one ready.”

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(With a wink) You want children. You could also create that talent yourself a la Jos Verstappen and Sophie Kumpen.

“But he or she won’t be ready for Formula 1 in six or seven years, haha. I definitely want kids and if they want to race, that’s fine. I do think I would do it differently than how my father and I “We have dealt with it. I don’t like that at the moment. But it’s easy for me to talk because I don’t have children. Maybe I’ll think differently when the time comes.”

“But the passion he had went very far. He did everything for me. Tuning engines, preparing karts. I don’t see myself doing that. I’m not going to push my kids to race. They have to want it themselves. And if you do go all out with your son or daughter, then you can no longer drive in Formula 1 yourself, I think. You have to start laying the foundation from the age of four. I want to be there myself .”

Speaking of your father. He is now fully active again as a driver in a fairly dangerous discipline. Certainly in recent times there have been a number of fatal incidents in rallying. Do you ever worry about him hurtling down those narrow streets at 180 an hour?

“I always tell him to watch out. He always tells me that, by the way. Look, he always wants to do it as well as possible with all the risks involved. I say: it is no longer necessary. You do not have to win. You can also just have fun if you sometimes take 1 percent less risk. In rally quite a lot of accidents happen. You write off at least one car per year. The races he drives are a bit safer than some races in the world championship , but still… I always follow him via live timing and then I’m happy every time he comes through, yes. Relieved too? A bit.”

Last week was your friend Kelly’s birthday. Social media showed that she received a large bunch of flowers at her hotel room in London. Sender was Max Verstappen. Are you that romantic?

“Sometimes you have to, haha.”

You wouldn’t share something like that on social media yourself.

“I just don’t feel the need to show my private life to the outside world. Kelly also does it much less than before. When I’m ever done with Formula 1 I don’t see myself posting very much afterwards. I just don’t like it. Some people do nothing else all day, I’m busy with other things, for example I’m on my phone quite a lot, but that’s more to arrange things around my sim team (virtual racing, ed). It takes a lot of time, but because it’s my passion, I really enjoy doing it.”


Looking back on the past year. What was the absolute highlight for you?

“In terms of race, that was the victory in Spa from the midfield. It was really great how everything came together there for us. Our car was perfect. Winning the world title was of course the highlight.”

Due to uncertainty about the scoring, after the race in Japan it was uncertain whether you had enough points to be sure of the world title at that time. Did that take the shine off this unique moment?

“Not for me. When you’re ever done and you look back, you don’t think about how you became world champion. What matters is that you became it. The way doesn’t matter. My dad and I always said that to each other : it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win.”

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