F1: Verstappen puts in hard graft ahead of new season
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Max Verstappen’s father forbade him from overtaking in some places on the track during his karting days to improve his skills and stop it from being “too easy” for him. Jos, himself a veteran of 107 F1 races, said he used it as a way to teach his son how to overtake better without losing too much time.
Having celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday, Max Verstappen has already surpassed his father’s race tally with 134 entries in the sport so far.
Jos never managed a race win and stood on the podium twice, but his son has already eclipsed his achievements by winning 17 Grand Prix finishing in the top three on 53 occasions.
That first win came on his Red Bull debut at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016, after replacing Daniil Kvyat in a move from sister team Toro Rosso.
Since then he has steadily improved with the team and is now locked in an intense title fight with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton – only two points separate them with seven races to go in 2021.
Jos feels the rules he gave his son during his karting days helped make him the racer he is today.
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“While karting, I tried to teach Max as much as possible,” Jos Verstappen told Speedweek. “There are so many aspects you have to take into account.
“Overtaking was an important subject for me because, in my opinion, you can also overtake in the wrong way.
“If Max lost time during an overtake, I tried to explain how he could do it better.
“I even went so far as to forbid him from overtaking on the straights in places where it seemed too easy. I told him, ‘You can only overtake here, here and there. Otherwise, don’t do it’.
“It’s one of the reasons I feel that Max can overtake anywhere in F1.
“Overtaking is not a coincidence. A driver has to keep an eye on his competitor, assess his weaknesses and get to know them. Max has developed this for years in karting.”
Verstappen proved his overtaking prowess last time out at the Russian Grand Prix.
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He started the race from the back after taking a grid penalty for installing a new unit ahead of the race – his fourth of the season.
But that didn’t stop him cutting through the pack and taking advantage of chaos caused by a sudden downpour towards the end of the race to finish second, behind Hamilton, to make sure his title rival didn’t pull too far ahead in the standings.
Despite still being young and embroiled in a tense fight with arguably the greatest F1 driver of all time, Verstappen has shown himself to be unflappable – a characteristic his father says Max has always had since he first demanded to begin his karting career as a four-year-old.
“I actually wanted to wait longer before putting him in a kart,” Jos said. “But no, Max made it very clear that he wanted a go-kart.
“As a six-year-old, he was already ahead of his peers. He still had a hard time against the older boys, but one day it clicked, when our regular circuit was closed.
“We went to a circuit Max wasn’t familiar with, but I didn’t have to tell him much about the corners and lines. “He was competitive straight away and then I knew, ‘Okay, Max gets it’.”
Jos added: “Max has always had a kind of calmness about him. You can’t train that, that is his character.
“I know I haven’t always been the easiest to work with, and that I have asked a lot of Max. But he has come through it all and he is very strong mentally.”
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