Max Verstappen says he went into his first season of Formula 1 comparing himself straight away to the 'best' in the sport rather than focus on simply emerging as the fastest rookie racer.
One of five drivers to make their full-time F1 debut in 2015, Toro Rosso's Verstappen stole the headlines as the youngest driver to start an F1 race at just 17 years-old, before going on to score in only his second outing in Malaysia.
From here, Verstappen blossomed into a regular points' scorer, peaking with fourth place finishes in Hungary and the United States on the way to 12th overall. Scoring 49 points, Verstappen was comfortably the highest-placed rookie at the end of the season, a full 22 points clear of Sauber's Felipe Nasr and 31 points ahead of Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Indeed, though Verstappen was compared directly against his fellow Toro Rosso driver, he says he came into the sport with bigger aspirations.
“I never compare myself with the rookies," he told Sky Sports F1
. "It's not really a championship, but definitely it's always nice to be on top of it and to score the most points. But you want to compare yourself with the best of the best and that's definitely the more experienced guys."
Looking forward, Verstappen – who will enter his second season of F1 driving a Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso – says he is setting his sights on multiple world titles, adding that it doesn't matter which team he achieves this with.
The Dutchman is believed to be signed to a long-term Red Bull contract, though it is common knowledge that both Mercedes and Ferrari have indicated an interest in poaching him.
"My ultimate dream is just to become world champion. And not only once. So that's my dream and it doesn't matter with which team it is.
“It's good to do another year here [at Toro Rosso] and to learn a lot again because you never stop learning," he said. "I still have a long way ahead and am still very young, so I don't mind to stay here another year."