#15 : Max Verstappen

#15 : Max Verstappen
The Edge
#15 : Max Verstappen
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Episode 3 May 16, 2022 00:18:24

Hosted By

TAG Heuer

Show Notes

This time on The Edge, a podcast by TAG Heuer, we speak to the reigning Formula One world champion Max Verstappen. The young racing sensation takes us back to that dramatic final race in Abu Dhabi. He tells us what it felt like to cross the line and seize his first world title. This was a champion’s rendezvous with destiny. Listen to Max share that moment with us, in his own words. Your host is Teo van den Broeke, Style Director at GQ. See you on The Edge.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 December 12th, 2021 as the sunset on the ya marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, all eyes were on the final Grandee of the formula one calendar. This is where the championship was about to reach a crescendo, all season, the young racing sensation, maxed V chappen had pushed himself to the limit. He fought for every apex, every Chica, every straight, every inch of every track. Max's quick assertive driving style always guarantees F1 fans, one hell of a show. And now it was time for one final showdown, a one lap shootout to the finish line, years of hard work and toil boiled down to 3.2 miles of race track. And in those dying seconds of the race Max's patience and persistence paid off, he found a gap and put himself in front of the race leader. It was a bold move, a beautiful move, a move that would win Max's first world title. This was the champions Ronda V with destiny, before listening to my conversation with him, I'll let max share that moment with you in his own words. I'm TA Vandam, BRCA, welcome to the edge, a podcast by tag Hoya. Speaker 2 00:01:30 We are on the Sunday and, um, you know, getting ready for that final race of the season. I think a lot already during the season had happened, you know, we had a really good season up until then, but also sometimes, uh, quite unlucky as well. So we lost quite a lot of points. So it all came down to that final, final race. So naturally of course, you know, there are a bit more nerves than, uh, in other races because you know, it can be very important for you. So, um, but at the end of the day, your preparation is exactly the same as other races. Otherwise you, you are, you're doing something wrong in the other races, right? So, um, yeah, I was just looking forward to it, you know, to see where we would end up. Speaker 2 00:02:12 I was very excited at the time, but naturally of course also, I mean, I was in proposition, but I didn't feel like we actually had the fastest car in the race. So, um, I knew it was gonna be tough. Um, but you know, I was still very hopeful that we, uh, you know, we, we had that chance of, of winning the title, but, um, of course then off the line, a lot of things already changed. So, uh, yeah, as you can see, you know, you can prepare as well as you, you can, but things can change very quickly when we arrived to the track. Everyone was just, I think very excited, but also nervous at the same time. But at the end of the day, you can always, you know, you just try to do the best you can, right. Try to, uh, try to just, um, you know, do do your routine, try to focus on what you have been doing already the whole year and, uh, you know, just, uh, yeah. Do your thing. Speaker 2 00:03:13 Well, I think the, what the most important is about the routine is just what I do with the engineers. In terms of the, the, the preparation before you go into the car in terms of strategy and stuff, my routine like, uh, myself, I do, I mean warm up my muscles a bit, my neck, my back, but, um, I have no, um, superstitions or anything, but it's, it is just important, uh, to make sure you're ready for it. I mean, I'm talking to my engineer, going through the final details of, of, uh, um, you know, looking into how we are gonna do the start, you know, what, what kind of procedure we are gonna take. Um, and that's about it really talk to Helmud always before the start. Um, and then I just get on with it. I mean, yeah. Before the start, you don't really talk to too many people, to be honest, I'm, I'm literally focused just on myself. Um, in that particular moment, I never really look at other people or drivers or, you know, you have to just concentrate on yourself because that's the only thing you can influence. Anyway, it's not that complicated. I mean, you have a steering wheel, a brake pedal and aro pedal. And, uh, I think over the years, you, uh, you know what to do, you know, so I don't really think about too many things. I just jump in and for me it's just another race, but of course, with a bit more pressure, cuz it's fighting for a world championship Speaker 2 00:04:43 At the time when I overtook signs after my pit stop, I didn't see Lewis anymore. Cuz he's that far ahead. Um, but I, I knew Checo was still out there and uh, of course then at one point I realized what was going on. So, and that, I mean that made, made my race because if Checo wouldn't have done that, I wouldn't have been a champion because then they could have done a free pit stop and uh, that would've been it. So to completely reduce that gap was, uh, was crucial at the end of the day to, um, to the win in the end. It wasn't particularly exciting for me. I mean, it looked like we were losing them the championship, but then of course the crash happened, safety car came out, they had to clear the car. You know, we took that as an opportunity to put new ties on the car. Speaker 1 00:05:30 A quick side note, the crash max is referring to is Nicholas LAI's accident on the 53rd lap. LAI's crash through Deborah, across the track causing a yellow flag and the safety car to be deployed for anyone who isn't familiar with formula one, a yellow flag is a signal for drivers to slow down and get behind the safety car. Now let's go back to max. Speaker 2 00:05:53 You can make a call or to pit or not for new tires and you know, we went for it. Um, and yeah, clearly that does give you an opportunity as long they of course restart, um, the race. Um, and then of course they, uh, they released the cars just for one single lap to race and I knew it was on, Speaker 2 00:06:19 You know, we had a chance again to, uh, to fight for the title. So then it's all about just, you know, getting yourself in the right position in the restart and trying to be as close as you can be to, to have, you know, to go for the move. You know, these cars are not easy to, to follow especially last year. Um, uh, but I did, of course I did have the, the, the fresher tires. So I was just very excited once, you know, of course they released us and we had that one lap fight and I got, you know, I got 'em front. That was what I wanted. Uh, because as soon as you went in front, then it's, it was up to me to, to try and defend and uh, that's way better than having to try and do a dive somewhere, you know, really unexpectedly at the end. So, uh, yeah, Speaker 2 00:07:07 I think the particular moment where I started to realize it was happening was of course after that final defense into that fast left hand corner, cuz in that last sector afterwards, you, you cannot pass. So it was all up to me from there on not to make a mistake and just drive it to the line. Um, so, uh, yeah, you just, you know, it in your head it's happening, but you still need to be of course focused for the last sector to, to not make a mistake and, and get too excited suddenly it was back on. And uh, of course to then cross the line as well. You know, the, the emotions from in the beginning of the race, of course, really excited and looking forward to it, to then during the race, basically it was dropping knowing that it didn't look like it was gonna happen to then suddenly completely turn around. And you know, you won was insane like in a time space of like one and a half hours Speaker 1 00:08:05 As max crossed the finish line, there was this great audio from his radio of Christian Horner, managing director at red bull racing. And he said, max, for chap, you are the world champion. You absolutely deserve it. You've had no luck, max. We are so proud of you. So I asked max how that made him feel back to max, Speaker 2 00:08:30 You know, Christian saying these words, um, on the radio <laugh> I think by, by that time, my eardrums were already blown up from, uh, <laugh> people screaming on the radio, um, with all the excitement. Uh, but yeah, it's something, um, of course I heard before on the radio when, you know, won the titles at red bull and I was, uh, you know, still in go-karting at the time and you dream of first of all, trying to get formula one and be on a podium at least, or win a race. And then once you have completed these things, you of course, want to fight for a title and then hearing that on the radio of course was, uh, yeah, it was very special, but at the time, so there was so many emo, like it went that quick. Of course. Now when you look back at it, um, you probably can appreciate it even more. Um, but yeah, at the time, like it was just insane. Uh, what, what came at me? I mean, I was, I was crying in my helmet in the, in lab, um, as well just from knowing that, you know, everything you worked for up until then, you know, you, you achieved your, your life goal in, in racing. So, um, yeah, in general that, that whole lap, um, was something, yeah, I will, I will never forget, Speaker 2 00:09:48 I think at the time, yeah, there was so many emotions like running, running through me, uh, from go-carting times all the way to formula one when I jumped out of the car, you know, and I had that little moment to myself. I, I needed that, you know, before I would see anyone else I just needed to quickly, uh, have a few seconds for myself, um, to just let it all, let it all go and actually like realize what, what just happened. And, but also because the whole, um, season was so, uh, stressful as well, because you needed to be, um, like fully on it. You know, you needed to be a hundred percent. If you made a tiny mistake, I knew that the others of course would, um, take advantage of it. Um, and then of course, when I knew that season was over as well, I was like, um, I was really happy of course, winning the championship, but I was also looking forward to that break, you know, to just have a few weeks off. Um, in my break, I, uh, I just spent a bit of time away from formula one, really not thinking about it and actually just spend time with family and friends and yeah, just have a good time, you know, just, uh, enjoy the world and, um, recharge a bit because it was a, it was a really, uh, tough season Speaker 2 00:11:12 If I would have to give my younger self any advice I wouldn't, I would just do exactly like I, I have done at the moment because you need to make mistakes to become a better person, because if you keep, um, you know, preventing, let's say young max from mistakes, he's not learning because you do need to make mistakes to actually learn. People can tell you a hundred times, do not do this, do not do that, but you will, you know, you will make them and it's good to make them because that hurts, you know, that, you know, that really, um, hits you. And I think these, you know, particular moments are good for your career. Um, cuz sometimes that will drive you to, to be a, to be your better self. I think Speaker 1 00:12:02 If we could talk a little bit about the immediate aftermath of the race, who were the first people you spoke to, what did you say? What did you see? Um, how did you spend those kind of like 60 minutes? Speaker 2 00:12:14 Well, the first people I really spoke to after the race, um, I mean, first of course you, you have your moment with your mechanics with, with my, my trainer as well. Um, luckily also I invited, um, some very special friends of mine, like my best friends, um, uh, and the dad, um, over who, where we really spend, uh, a lot of time with during my go-karting time. And they normally don't really come to, to DF fundraisers, but you know, I, for this special moment, that final raise, I wanted them to be there. And uh, of course my dad was there. My manager Raymond was there, who I know since I was born and of course my girlfriend was there. So yeah, I think, um, it was very nice to have these people around, especially for such a high pressure end of season, you know, and then of course, when everything works out well for you and you win the championship, it's even more special and to be able to, you know, to, to celebrate it with them yeah. Is something, uh, I will not forget. Luckily it's of course all recorded as well. So, uh, yeah, it will be nice to, to look back at Speaker 1 00:13:21 You're you are a very young man. I mean, it's a lot to have that pressure on you and particularly at the level that you are at. I mean, especially at the level you're at, how, how do you cope with it and what are your, what are your tools for kind of managing the pressure and managing the negativity that can sometimes come your way Speaker 2 00:13:39 To be honest? I think of course, you know, there's a lot going on in the one also with social media. Um, and everyone has their opinion about you of course. But uh, for me, I know what I have to focus on. Right. And I know the who, who the people are like, who are very important to me around me, um, and who are influential. So those are the people you have to actually spend time with and, um, give your energy to. So all the others, I mean, for me, I don't really <laugh> pay a lot of attention to because it also doesn't really matter what their opinion is or what they try to achieve in, in general to you, Speaker 1 00:14:18 What do you think are the kind of key skills that get you into that position? What, what is it that gets you there other than, or, you know, obviously many, many years of practice, um, is there something, are there, are there a handful of skills? What is it? Speaker 2 00:14:34 I think it's very hard to pinpoint things, but I mean, naturally of course you need to, to have talent to get to formula one. But besides that, I mean, talent is not, not gonna bring you to the, the success at the end. You need to work hard because there are a lot of people with a lot of talent and there are a lot of people who can do it a very fast lap, but it's about then the things around it, you know, how can I be better? Always trying to improve, trying to work harder because the competition will try to beat you. Um, and that's on track, but also off track, you know, when you try to improve the car, work with your engineers to, to make the car faster and give the right feedback. Um, and at the end of the day, believe in yourself, you know, there are people, of course, in the world, they try to put you down, try to, you know, try to bring you down, try to talk negatively about you, but you have to believe in your own capabilities and you know, you have to just focus on, on yourself and, um, yeah. Speaker 2 00:15:29 Be strong at the end of the day. Speaker 1 00:15:31 How specifically did you celebrate that night? Speaker 2 00:15:33 That night? I, uh, well I celebrated with the team on a, on a boat, um, basically on the team boat. So, uh, yeah, we had a few glasses of water and uh, <laugh>, it was a, it was a good night, a long night, but we had a lot of fun. Speaker 1 00:15:51 You're you are at the beginning of the next season, this season. Um, how are you feeling about it? Do you feel the pressure to kind of uphold the title? Are you, are you feeling good? Uh, do you kind of, are you trying to ignore what happened last year? And just move ahead with a clear mind. What's your, what's your state of mind? Speaker 2 00:16:10 My state of mind for this season at the moment, I mean, I'm very relaxed and I achieved everything I wanted to achieve in formal one. So I Al already set after, um, Abu Dhabi, everything that comes next is a bonus. And I mean, that's amazing. Um, but let's say the biggest like pressure to, to perform is off, uh, because it has been achieved, but my motivation is the same or even higher because, you know, once you have achieved something like that, you, you want to try and win again. You want to try and fight for more championships, but even if I don't like, it's not the end of the world, but I think that at the end of the day makes it also a lot easier to go into a weekend and I, I can enjoy the weekends more. Now, Speaker 1 00:16:50 Is there anything that you want to achieve now? You've done everything you want to formula one. Is there anything you want to achieve in any other area sporting or otherwise? Speaker 2 00:17:00 Well, any anything else that I want to achieve is probably of course not, not in formula one, but maybe in a different racing category. Um, but there's a bit too early days to really go into detail, but I would definitely, um, want to try and do some more endurance racing as well. Um, yeah, probably, probably even during my formula one career, if I have time, um, cuz I don't, I don't want to do it when I'm like over 40 cuz then of course you are over your peak. And um, I, if I want to do other kind of races, I still want to be in a very good shape, you know, and, and basically in the best shape of my life. Speaker 1 00:17:32 Fantastic. Max, thank you so, so much for joining me at the edge. It's been wonderful to have you, um, you've been a fantastic guest and good luck with the season ahead. Speaker 2 00:17:43 Yeah. Thank you very much. Was uh, was a lot of fun. Thank you. Thanks. Speaker 1 00:17:55 Thank you for listening to this episode of the edge. Let us know what you thought in the comments, wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoyed it, don't forget to subscribe and leave us five stars. It really does make a difference. Thank you so much to max for Stephan, for joining me for today's episode. I'm your host Teo van and BRCA, and I'll be back next month with our fourth episode of the edge. Season two, a podcast by tag Hoya. See you soon.

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