'Make mistakes' - Max Verstappen's advice for Kimi Antonelli ahead of likely F1 debut

Max Verstappen offered Andrea Kimi Antonelli some important advice ahead of his likely F1 debut next year.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the FIA Press Conference. Formula…

Max Verstappen believes Andrea Kimi Antonelli ‘shouldn’t be too worried’ about making his F1 debut at such a young age, reflecting on his own experience as a 17-year-old debutante.

Verstappen became the youngest F1 driver to start a grand prix at 17 years and 165 days when driving for Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Antonelli, who has been heavily linked with Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement in 2025, will turn 18 this August.

During his early years in F1, Verstappen demonstrated his incredible raw talent and pace, but often made mistakes or had incidents with other drivers.

It wasn’t until the middle of 2018 when Verstappen showed great maturity and consistency, culminating in an impressive run of seasons before his maiden triumph in 2021.

Antonelli could find himself in a similar position to Verstappen if he’s given the call-up to Mercedes with very little single-seater experience.

Speaking to select media including Crash.net in Monaco, Verstappen reflected on his early years in F1 as a teenager while giving Antonelli some crucial advice.

“Hopefully nothing too intimidating but you’re such a rookie,” he commented. “There’s so many things you have to learn. For me personally, the biggest one was actually doing a full race distance. Like in F3, at the time, 35 minute races, there’s a lot more involved.

“Looking after the tyres is a big part of it, these tyres are so particular and sensitive compared to some other categories. In F2, F3 you are running on Pirellis already but for me at the time that wasn't the case.

“Going through the good moments, the bad moments, how you come out of these things, difficult weekends where it’s not just working for you or whatever. Like there’s so much to learn but on the other hand, don’t try to think about it too much. Let it go. When you’re talented and you can see that with Kimi, he’s very talented, I don’t think he should be too worried.

“Make mistakes. You have to make mistakes. Ideally, you like to make those mistakes when you’re not fighting for championships so I was also lucky with that starting at Toro Rosso at the time. Not many people are looking at you all of the time so you can make some silly mistakes here and there but it’s important to make them because if you tell yourself all of the time ‘I cannot do this, I cannot do that’ you will only adapt really if you make them and move forward.”

Max Verstappen winning for Red Bull on his debut for the team
Max Verstappen winning for Red Bull on his debut for the team

Verstappen has remained at Red Bull since 2016, making the team his own in terms of how the car is developed and suited to his style.

The three-time world champion stressed the need to have “good people around you” as you grow as a person.

“Growing up as a person as well I guess, even outside the car,” he added. “Not what you want in the private life and then it’s just understanding the setup of a racing car more and more.

“Of course, cars evolve and when you’re with one particular team, you know more or less what works or not. Being with the same engineers and people around you, you know that fine tuning the car for you. The more time you spend with them, the more it comes to you.

“Again, don’t try to think about it too much, just let it happen. When you’re that young, just focus on trying to go as fast as you can, make your mistakes, have good race results, try not to think too much. Now you can explain all this but at the time you don’t know all of it. You also have good people around you in the team that will coach you around it.” 

Read More