Jos Verstappen has great belief in his son Max who at 21 has become the driver that Red Bull and Honda will lead them back to Formula 1 glory, the father adamant that his son is the best overtaker on the grid and is expecting a top three finish in this year’s championship for his prodigious lad.
The young Dutchman had a stellar second half of the season last year, only outscored by eventual World Champion Lewis Hamilton, which Verstappen senior acknowledged. “He was indeed very strong, but he always had to take risks to get the result.”
“If you must take risks, anything can happen. That’s why it’s easier to start from the front row, so you don’t have to take risks. But he’s done really well. And when it comes to overtaking, Max is the best.”
Although Verstappen is one of the younger drivers on the grid this year, he has 82 grand prix starts on his CV, his father pointed out, “He’s still incredibly young, still younger then when I started. But he will have contested 100 races so I’d say he’s an experienced young talent.”
Jos added, “I discuss everything with Max, including during his tough time. I don’t think there was anything wrong. It was really the outside world that made a problem out of things.”
“Maybe the conversation after Monaco was hard but if you see how he picked it up from there and how he starts this year, it’s perfect,” he added with reference to a wayward patch his son was going through which culminated in a race compromising crash during FP3 at Monaco.
As for his involvement, the 47-year-old with 47 F1 starts to his name said, “It’ll be the same as before. I don’t have to be here all the time to tell him what to do; he knows that better than me. But it’s the small things. I don’t tell him what to do, but I talk to him about what I see. That’s more than enough.”
Looking back at preseason testing he said, “After Pierre Gasly’s crash, the feeling was a bit less than before, but I think Max is happy with the way things are going so I think it’s positive.”
“Everybody is ready and they are looking forward to it. You can really notice it. Honda’s people are also very calm and organized. Don’t forget, this is only the start. I think it can only get better.”
With regards to championship expectations ahead of the season opener in Australia next week, Verstappen said, “That’s difficult to say. The goal is obviously to become world champion.”
“But we have to remain realistic. And it’s only the first year with Honda. So let’s say it’s a successful season when he finishes in the top three of the championship with a couple of race wins.”
Big Question: Will Max challenge for the title this year?
Flashback: Jos Verstappen tests for Honda but fate is unkind