Max Verstappen says there will be no backing off in his second F1 season, despite having the spectre of penalty points hanging over him.
The teenage sensation provided some of the high points of the 2015 season as he tore his way through from lowly grid positions, unafraid of the reputations around him. There were mistakes on occasion, however, and Verstappen heads into 2016 with eight points on his record and only twelve permissible in a twelve-month period before suspensions loom.
The Dutchman ended his rookie season with the highest penalty point tally, bolstered mainly by his accident with Romain Grosjean in Monaco, but garnished with three points picked up in the Abu Dhabi finale. An expletive-laden run to a frustrated tenth in the recent Australian Grand Prix shows just how close to the edge Verstappen treads at times, but he insists that he won't let the threat of suspension interfere with the way he drives.
“No, not so much because I think it's quite funny," he said, "I mean, I have the most penalty points but still you are winning three awards at the FIA [prizegiving]. So it's funny but, in the end, it won't change my approach."
With Toro Rosso appearing to have another solid chassis which, this year, benefits from Ferrari power rather than Renault, Verstappen already has reason to believe that he can avoid trouble.
“I just think like this," he reasoned, "Hopefully, we don't have to overtake so much and we are just a bit more up front so we don't have those risks and those problems. [Overtaking] is the most fun but, in the end, I would prefer to win a race without overtaking than finishing fifth from last.”