By Josh Kruse

Max Verstappen has become one of Formula 1's most talked-about drivers following his meteoric rise in the past three years, but how much do you really know about the sport's youngest ever winner? sat down with Verstappen over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend to talk about his season so far, his life away from racing, and his way to prank people with ice cream!

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Has the beginning of 2017 been more difficult than expected for you and Red Bull?

Max Verstappen
Well I never really had many expectations when I started, because then when the car is bad or good... it's not like a shock. Unfortunately, it wasn't what many people hoped but that's just how it is, you have to make the best of it I guess.
Do you find yourself overdriving the car at all?

Max Verstappen
Not for the moment. We always try and extract the best we can out of it, but it's not that you start to overdrive because that won't work. You just have to make the best out of the situation you're in at the moment.
What will be a successful year for you?

Max Verstappen
That we close the gap, and that we're fighting for victories at the end of the season. At the moment that's still not the case, we have to focus race by race if we can improve on the car.
Are you able to identify one element of the car that needs improving the most for your driving style?

Max Verstappen
It's not particularly just my driving style, we need more grip on the car, as soon as we have more grip then even if the car drives a bit differently I'll adapt to the situation. I think that's the key.
Going back a few years, what was your first memory of motorsport?

Max Verstappen
My first memory of motor racing, I think it was just attending a go kart race. When I was very little my Dad had his own go kart team as well while he was still in F1, so I always joined and riding through the paddock on my bicycle.
Did you get to race for your Dad's team?

Max Verstappen
No because my Dad stopped when I started racing. So he sold everything and then started with me.
How old were you when you first jumped in the kart?

Max Verstappen
I was four and a half years old. You're allowed to race from seven years onwards, so I just started having fun driving laps. When you're seven years old it starts to get a bit more serious.
You have a close relationship with your Dad, what was it like growing up? Were you surrounded by racing or did you get to decide what you wanted to do?

Max Verstappen
Well I think the most important thing is that you enjoy it yourself. I think it shouldn't be pushed from your parents, I think that's very important.
Do you remember your first race?

Max Verstappen
It was actually a very good weekend, I qualified on pole and won both races. I could see my Dad because he was my mechanic, and he was so nervous because it was my first race and the procedures and everything was new to me. At the end of the day it was a great weekend.
What track was it?

Max Verstappen
In the north of Holland, it was called Emmen. It's quite a small track. I ran a mini kart for small kids.
Who is the fastest Verstappen?

Max Verstappen
Umm, I think I would say me! And my Dad would say me as well, because he always tried to make me better than him. I'm like a Verstappen 2.0.
Do you race each other back home? Does your Mum jump back in the kart?

Max Verstappen
Last year we went for some rental karting, and my Dad and also my Mum joined and my sister joined and some friends of mine. And I have to say, my Dad, he's still very quick! If you take the weight penalty and you balance it out we're actually quite close in lap time.
So it was like a mini race?

Max Verstappen
Yeah you just race against each other. And my Mum wasn't bad, she stopped when she was like 24 I think, so for a long time she hasn't been really competitive, so it was just like a one-off, but we're all like within a second to one and a half seconds.
When was the turning point where you thought, I can be quite competitive here?

Max Verstappen
Eight or nine. You could see it, national races, out of let's say 70 races I won 68. So there wasn't much competition but you're always like 'OK well how will it be international?' Luckily when I went international I was still having good results. I think when I was 10 years old in the international world I was like 'OK this looks not too bad!'
What was your first 'treat yourself' present you bought yourself when you became an established racer?

Max Verstappen
A watch maybe? I was about 17.
What kind of watch?

Max Verstappen
A nice one!
Mixing schoolwork with racing, how did that go?

Max Verstappen
Difficult. I stopped school when I was 15 and a half, after that it was just difficult to combine, I was two weeks away one week at school, so it was very hard to catch up. But it's a risk, I've had a lot of people in racing that did the same, and eventually it doesn't work out and you need to go back to school and study again, and that was my motivation to try to do well, so I didn't have to go back to school afterwards.
Did you enjoy school?

Max Verstappen
What was your best subject, you had to have one?

Max Verstappen
There was no subject to be honest. Well maybe the sports side of it, some training at school and all the rest. I did like history, I was always quite interested and got good grades as well.
Worst subject?

Max Verstappen
Just generally the Dutch language, just to write it and stuff. And maths, I was OK at it but I just didn't like it, always thinking and how to solve those problems, not my thing.
What would you be if you weren't a racing driver?

Max Verstappen
I never really thought about that to be honest! I always wanted to be a racing driver, even if it was not F1 it would be something else. Or do something in racing in general, I never really thought about it to be honest.
When you're not at a race, what do you do to wind down and get away from F1?

Max Verstappen
I play FIFA. It's quite intense, like every day.
What's your team of choice?

Max Verstappen
Ultimate team. So you can select all the players together, who you like.
Play against friends or online?

Max Verstappen
Online and with friends. We all have good teams so it's quite the rivalry. There's one guy I'm texting to every day, because every week new players are coming out, and we're like 'oh we should match those and bring those together', it's really competitive!
Have you ever tried to spook anyone online by saying 'have a guess who I am?'

Max Verstappen
No I really like it that they don't know who I am!
In F3 you raced against some impressive names, how did you find racing in that season?

Max Verstappen
It was good, we were a bit unfortunate with some retirements I had that season, but at the end of the day we won most races. In your rookie season I think that's very good, had a good laugh with the team as well, they were really great to work with, especially since you're a bit of an underdog, it's always nice. If you jump into the best car and the best team then everybody says, 'that's pretty normal' that you do this, but when you start with a team before that was driving maybe in the top 15, and you start winning races it's always very nice. I have great memories, it was a great car and I definitely enjoyed it a lot. It helped me a lot to become the driver I am today.
What was the feeling like when you signed with Red Bull, you were obviously quite happy but did you expect it?

Max Verstappen
When I started in F3 I never thought that would be happening after like six or seven events. It was special I would say at that young age.
What was the reason behind choosing number 33?

Max Verstappen
Because I wanted number 3 but that was already taken by Daniel so, maybe double luck we took 33!
On your relationship with Daniel, how does that go? Has he taught you any Aussie 'jargon'?

Max Verstappen
No, I'm not good at that anyway with the accent, I can't do it. He's a great guy and a good laugh. Last week we had an event to promote the event in Austria and at one point we were laughing so much I was almost crying! It was really intense, it's a good relationship. Of course, on the track you try to beat each other I think that's pretty normal, but off track we can be good mates as well, so that's important.
What circuit would you most like to see back on the F1 calendar?

Max Verstappen
I heard Turkey was really nice. And then I would say Zandvoort is very special, but it's also to have a proper home Grand Prix, that would be nice.
Two easy questions to finish off the interview. What are your top three emojis that you use on your phone?

Max Verstappen
The cheeky one where it goes like this (making a smirking face), the laughing one where he's crying, and I think the thumbs up.
What's the worst joke that you know?

Max Verstappen
Worst joke? That's difficult to get one now, and they're all Dutch anyway so it's hard to relate to an English one. I do like the 'what do you have on your shirt?' And then you like flick their face. Or with an ice-cream, you can be like, 'do you smell this ice-cream?' and then you push it on their face, those kinds of things!
Awesome job, thanks very much Max.

Max Verstappen:
No problem, have a great day.


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Urgh, aother one infected with the "like" disease. 

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