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First things first, on a scale of 1 to 10, how bored are you with answering questions about your age?

Max Verstappen:
[laughs, then shouts] 10!

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It's difficult to consider your season without thinking about the big step you made coming to F1, but with just two rounds to go until the end of your first season in F1, how would you personally evaluate it?

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MV
It has been very positive and I think a very strong performance. I think especially in the two races before the summer break and then we continued afterwards. Of course, I'm very happy with that. Some strong qualifying and especially the races, which is the most important thing. I'm enjoying it a lot, I've made some good overtakes, which I enjoy of course, and scored some good points. Definitely, it's getting better and better all the time.

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Beyond the racing, how do you feel you have developed personally?

MV
You get more and more experience and you start to know the world a bit more. Now it's more and more relaxed... you know what to do basically. You understand the car, you jump in again, there are no nerves. You just do what you have to do. It's a new world F1 at the start with all good drivers there, but now, definitely, it feels normal.

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How nerve-wracking was that first race for you?

MV
To be honest, I expected to be nervous, but I was doing so many switch changes to get the optimum start that I forgot to be nervous!

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Do you still get nervous?

No. It all disappeared soon afterwards

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How do you feel your driving has progressed this year? Is being so inexperienced a help, in a way, because you don't have to adapt from anything?

MV
I did only one season of F3 and that was of course good experience, but still I'm missing a lot of experience compared to everyone here in the paddock. Even guys who are also in their first season of F1 who have at least 5 other years of racing. I think maybe at the beginning of the season, you miss that a bit, but now I'm getting more and more experience as well, which ends up making a big difference. Now it's just race by race you get more and more and you learn every race again. Austin was a particularly good race for me as I didn't make any mistake in those difficult conditions and I think it proved that there's a lot of progression there in this season.

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What were your genuine expectations coming into your first season?

MV
It was a bit difficult to say, but I was always aiming for around 9th or 10th in a race, that would be very good. Of course now we've had some much better results than that. I didn't expect to be on 45 points already, so it's definitely a great feeling and it's definitely more than what I expected.

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What is the most important achievement for you this year?

MV
Results, but also just the way you're driving and showing off. Of course you also want to compare well to your team-mates - you want to be in front and that's all going well. I'm very happy with that, especially I think I still have a lot to learn at my young age compared to the other guys. So it can only get better.

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You say you have a lot to learn still - where are the big areas for growth for you?

MV
To be honest, I think everywhere. I think on every point you can still improve. Qualifying, race pace, overtaking, starts... all those things setting up the car. Of course, that's a lot with the engineers as well, but just your general experience, what you feel... I think you can improve on everything, you're never perfect.

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The limitations of the Toro Rosso package - particularly the Renault engine - must be frustrating at times... but have you seen it as an opportunity to show off some impressive overtaking skills...

MV
Sometimes it's better to come through from, say, last to eighth than staying eighth and you've qualified eighth! I still would have liked to start 8th, but unfortunately, we have had some problems in qualifying especially. You practice your overtaking skills, the way you're positioning yourself, strategies, experience, how you do it with the tyres, so also in that sense it helps.

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Given the critique you received from certain drivers at the start of the year regarding your experience, do you feel you have vindicated yourself? Has it been satisfying to do so?

MV
I had some critics, but for me it was all about having to show that they were wrong and I think so far I have proved that. That's also the way I like to do it, I don't like to speak in the press what is right or wrong or to say they are wrong, I like to do it on the track because that's the most powerful response.

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Have you had much positive feedback from other drivers?

MV
I think the older drivers in general, especially the ones who became world champion, are maybe a bit more unafraid and it's easier for them to say 'that they are too hard on me' with overtaking, but they are exactly the same if they are in that situation. They have a championship-winning car for the podium and we are fighting to get up there. You try to do everything you can and they were like that also in the beginning of their careers. So I don't see any reason to change that. Again, I'm a fighter, I'm not someone who backs off.

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Do you feel you are having to push harder for your success?

MV
I can't afford so many mistakes in the race. You can't lock up, you go wide and lose maybe one second - no, you have to be on it all the time compared to maybe other people with stronger cars who can make some mistakes. Even the world champion locked up and went wide a few times [in Austin], but for them, they can afford it. We have to be on top of it all the time. I won't say it's easier for them as they still need to win the race, but definitely we need to be concentrated, especially in our rookie year. It's challenging.

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Are you confident you will be on the grid in 2016 given the state of affairs with Red Bull?

MV
It's looking good with the engines. I'm pretty confident that they will be here, also next year, so they just have to finalise a lot of things.

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If Toro Rosso does go ahead and use an 'older' Ferrari power unit, do you think it will still be an improvement over the current Renault engine?

MV
If that would happen, I think it's definitely a big step forward. I mean, if you can see now the Ferrari compared to us on the back straight in Austin, it was quite difficult for us to defend. I remember the first lap, I had Jenson behind me and behind that was Sebastian and they took both of us on the straight. I think it will make a massive difference, but of course the other guys will improve, but I don't think they will improve as much as from 2014-15 because I think that was the biggest step you can do in an engine, particularly for Ferrari. So hopefully we are a bit closer next year.

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Is it frustrating given Toro Rosso's gains in 2015 that it is the actions of Red Bull that has created so much uncertainty.

MV
It's think it's not a frustration, it's just a shame, especially for people in the factory who work very hard for it to optimize everything on the car. And then they build a great car, or at least, we could have fought for podium I think. Because I think that if we have the right power unit, we are quite close or stronger than Williams for sure and we can fight with Ferrari in the dry. In the wet, we can't. It's a shame. In the end, for us in the rookie season, it's so good that we can fight for points, it's not like a drama but of course for the engineers as well, they have a great package, and then it's a bit unfortunate that you lose so much speed on the straights.

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How much input will you have into next year's car?

MV
Already the engineers have started to work with the chassis. They try to optimise all the things for the drivers but maybe it'll be a bit more comfortable and a bit more to my liking.

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Have you found other teams asking about your services, particularly given Red Bull's uncertain future?

MV
I am sure I will read it in the press! You talk to people. You can always talk to them friendly, there's nothing wrong with that.

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Given the push towards making the cars more physical in 2017, are there any nerves about what could be around the corner in terms of the regulations?

MV
I think already the racing is very exciting, but I think it'll make it more challenging with some higher speeds through the corners. We'll have to see how it pans out really. The looks of the cars is also very important for the fans and I think at the moment that could be a bit better.

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Given your success in 2015, are you surprised more teams haven't taken a punt on up and coming drivers for 2016?

MV
It would be nice, I think, to get some younger drivers in. I think it's good for the sport. But on the other hand, you also have to keep some icon and some world champions. It's good to get the younger drivers and it also shows the way you get prepared is much more professional than say 15 years ago. Many people say it's easier - I don't think it's easier but it's all about preparation. I think the younger drivers now are way better prepared than 15-20 years ago. You have much more resources, the simulator... even the younger categories or the junior categories, they are much more professional, so all that helps.