Red Bull Racing Wants You To Join Max Verstappen in the 2021 United States Grand Prix
2020 has been a roller coaster ride for much of the sports world. Formula 1 itself took a massive hit early in the year when the Australian Grand Prix had to be cancelled last minute, only for the season to resume in a much more condensed schedule in Austria in July. Unfortunately for racing fans in the U.S., the tighter timetable meant no Grand Prix in Austin this year, but Red Bull Racing is vowing a return to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) bigger than ever before: by offering one lucky fan and a friend a fully immersive experience at the 2021 event, with behind the scenes access to the paddocks, a chance to meet with team principal Christian Horner, a tour of the garage and even meals with the team.
Joining us at HYPEBEAST to talk more about this USA The Red Bull Way competition is the team’s ace driver Max Verstappen, who also shared with us his views on his performance so far in the 2020 season against two extremely pacy Mercedes cars.
It’s a shame Formula 1 won’t be heading to Austin this year, but we know Red Bull is planning something big for the 2021 return to COTA. Can you tell us a little more about the competition?
Yeah, of course it’s a big shame that we didn’t get to go to Austin this year, but I think Red Bull is trying to plan something very nice for next year. If you join through the website, you’ll get the chance to experience the weekend with us, and get a more inside look, which as a fan you’ll really want to see. Hopefully that makes up a little bit for missing out on a whole this year.1 of 22 of 2
Big congratulations on your 40th podium at Portimao. The track seemed to be quite a difficult one with all its elevation changes, especially for a novel track most drivers haven’t had experience with in a Formula 1 car. How was it racing in those conditions?
It was just very slippery. They just laid some new tarmac and not many people had driven there, so that made it quite difficult. It was windy as well, but at the end of the day it’s the same for everyone to try and adjust to it, but I think to come away with a podium wasn’t too bad. The track itself was very enjoyable to drive. It’s a bit like Austin, where you really have big elevation changes in the track, and it’s just very cool to drive on to be honest. Makes it all the bit more interesting than when the track is just completely flat and there is not much going on.
Taking a step back to the current season, you’ve had an incredible performance despite Mercedes’s dominance with their pace. A podium for every race you’ve finished and a win for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone. Can you tell us how you’re feeling about this season in general and how you manage to keep that momentum going?
I think so far it’s been a consistent season; it’s always good to be on the podium. I think we definitely maximized the results in general, and even to get that win was very nice, but of course as a team we want to be closer to Mercedes and fight them every weekend but it didn’t really happen so far this year. You have to just look at the positives and that, from my side, is that I didn’t really make any big mistakes. That’s what you want to try to achieve in Formula 1, because you have to try and score points every single Grand Prix. That’s how you win a championship. So yeah, some good lessons, and happy in general with the performance.
With quite a few races this year, we’ve seen you in a bit of a limbo position where you’re way ahead of the midfield pack but you’re not quite on pace with the Mercedes, and you’re really racing on your own. I remember you even joking with your race engineer about staying hydrated on the team radio at one point. How do you stay focused and motivated in those moments when you’re stuck in that awkward spot?
Well I always try to get the best result out of it, and throughout the race at one point it all becomes quite natural, you almost feel like a robot: everything goes by itself. Of course sometimes you can say it’s maybe a little bit boring, but I would still try to keep the gap as small as possible to the cars ahead and I still want to try drive away from the guys behind me. So in general it’s not that hard to motivate yourself. You’re driving in a podium position so that’s always something very nice.
This year’s been a bit of a wild ride with the coronavirus causing a pretty packed race schedule and having mostly no fans at races. How big of an impact have these differences made on your season?
Well performance-wise, I think nothing. At the end of the day you just have to focus on yourself anyway when you’re in the car; you have to try to get the best out of it even if there are fans or not. It’s more like the atmosphere that’s missing. I think that is a bit of a shame, and I hope it comes back very soon because it’s nice to see fans who love Formula 1, and they support their driver — it’s just great to see. In Portimao, we already had a few fans back and immediately the atmosphere is nicer.
As for the tighter schedule, of course it’s tough, especially when you have a triple header. I think that’s very tough on the mechanics especially, when they’re working flat out all the time to get everything ready. So for them it’s nice to have a break sometimes. I’m sure that once the season is finished they will have a good rest because of course it was very stressful for them. We also understand it’s still a long season in a way that we still tried to have 17 races on such short notice, but hopefully it won’t happen too often like this.
It’s hard to talk about Red Bull Racing recently without mentioning Honda and their departure from the sport after 2021. Is there anything you can tell us about how the team might be moving forward with the power unit, and has there been any effect on the team’s current performance or mentality following Honda’s announcement?
No, I think they are still working flat out, so I don’t see any impact on the team which is good. I think Honda also said themselves that they will work flat out until the end of 2021.
About what the future brings, I don’t know at the moment. There are so many things going on that I think it’s important to just stay calm and let it happen.
As one of the most prominent young talents on the grid, there’s no question a huge amount of younger fans are inspired by you and the team at Red Bull. Is there any advice you can give to those young ones hoping to one day become an F1 driver themselves?
Work hard, on and off track. That’s the most important thing. Know your priorities, and always be yourself. I think that’s very important: do not try to act like someone else or act bigger than you are. You don’t need that. Be yourself, be honest, stay with two feet on the ground. Those things are very important to be successful.
For those interested in a chance of joining Verstappen next year in Austin, you can learn more about the USA The Red Bull Way over competition over on the team’s website.
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