12 November 2014
F1: Verstappen eyes Macau success before stepping up
Max Verstappen looks to round off his brief F3 career with victory on the streets of Macau before stepping up to F1 with Toro Rosso in 2015.
Max Verstappen is looking to round off his brief junior single-seater career with victory in one of the world's classic events this weekend.
The Macau Grand Prix is a very special way to end the racing season and, for many, it has been the start of stellar careers. While Red Bull Junior Verstappen does not need success in the Chinese enclave to propel him onto the world stage, he admits that it would be a wonderful trophy to stand beside the Zandvoort 'Masters of Formula 3' title that he took earlier this year.
The Dutchman also scored ten victories - more than anyone else - on his way to third overall in the FIA F3 European Championship, and lines up against much the same opposition in the Orient this weekend. Verstappen's Van Amersfoort Racing team completed two days of testing at the Lausitzring as preparation, with the car running in full Macau spec.
“On the Macau street course, a completely different set-up is required,” the driver explained, “We'll be running a lot less wing which means a lot less downforce. In addition, we'll be driving on Yokohama tyres instead of the Hankooks used in the European championship, so the set-up of the car changes dramatically.”
Verstappen at least has some experience of the Macau tyre, having sampled it late last year.
“During my very first F3 test in December 2013 at Valencia, I drove on Yokohamas,” he confirmed, “The tyres are a lot softer than the Hankooks, which means they wear off quicker. You don't really need to alter your driving style over a single lap, but you have to adapt for longer runs and the race.”
Not inconveniently, it rained on day two of the test so Max was also able to familiarise himself with the Yokohama rain tyres, and the youngster has since added simulator experience of the tricky Macau circuit to his armoury.
“It's a tough track, with several blind corners, so I'm happy to have had a go here before I hit the track in my F3 car,” he conceded, “It takes a while to get up to speed on the Macau circuit but, in the end, it went well.”
However, he knows that, no matter how well he has prepared on another circuit and in the simulator, learning the real thing will not be easy.
“For sure, it is a difficult event and a difficult track,” he conceded, “There is a bit of track time and the important thing is to learn it and make progress without crashing the car. It is not a place to make mistakes and I enjoy that sort of track.
“Of course, the qualifying and qualifying race are crucial, it is never easy to pass on a tight street circuit. In racing, having a bit of luck is never a bad thing, but I hope that in the end the fastest driver wins.”
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