Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has revealed that he has always stayed true to who he is, and has never tried to emulate any of the great Formula 1 drivers of the past.
Verstappen has been compared to the likes of Michael Schumacher in his young career for his outstanding race craft, as well as his occasional short temper and aggression.
One could say that he is the best of both of those world champions, and he went up against a driver in Sir Lewis Hamilton last season that will also go down in the history books as one of the greatest to ever do it.
While the reigning champion has a great deal of respect for the greatest racers on the planet, both past and present, he prefers to do things his own way, not akin to anybody else.
“To be honest, I’ve never had an idol, although I have extremely respected many athletes for their achievements,” Verstappen told F1 Insider.
“But I’ve never had anyone to emulate, I’ve only ever looked after myself.”
The Dutchman elaborated that he feels he can go farther in his career by being who he is, rather than trying to be someone else.
“If you are completely addicted to an idol, if you want to copy a hero, you can only lose – because you can only be as good as possible, but never better,” explained Verstappen.
“That’s why I’ve always tried to be myself, I don’t want to and can’t compare myself to others.
“At the end of the day, I want to be able to say to myself that I did my best work as often as possible.”
With the likes of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell beginning to establish themselves as the future of Formula 1, Verstappen is aware that there will be stiff competition in years to come.
But his main focus is firmly on the present – although he does feel that his Austrian side will have the assets to win titles in the coming years too.
“I also believe that we will have top material in the next few years but I prefer to keep the ball low and concentrate on the here and now,” he added.
“What I’ve learned is that the balance of power can change quickly in Formula 1.”
However, it is not all about the driver; the hard work put in by the team is not something he ever allows to escape his notice.
“On the other hand, I feel and like that Formula 1 is a team sport,” affirmed Verstappen.
“It’s in your hands alone on Sunday and you represent hundreds of people who have done everything before to put you in the best possible position.
“Whenever I destroy a car or parts of it, my first thought is that I have given these helpers a lot of work unnecessarily.”
The 24-year-old would love to add more championships to his tally after his dramatic success in 2021, but he is certain that there will be no stress if this does not materialise.
“I want to win as many titles as possible but I don’t waste any thought on how many there could be, because – as I said – one always depends on the material,” he said.
“If I don’t make it, I certainly won’t fall into depression.”
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 38 points in the Drivers’ Standings having won six races so far in 2022.