Max Verstappen’s racing mindset as a youngster revealed

Giedo van der Garde was full of praise for Verstappen, and recalled his talent for racing from a young age


Ex-Formula 1 driver, Giedo van der Garde, was full of superlatives for Max Verstappen as he hailed the Dutchman’s talent following his masterclass at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

F1‘s current world champion dominantly won his home race and at times lapped four seconds a lap faster than Sergio Perez, his teammate.

Such was the pace of the rainmaster, he wiped out Perez‘s lead in a matter of laps despite the Mexican gaining a 13 second advantage after pitting for intermediate tyres one lap earlier.

For van der Garde, he was full praise for his compatriot and recalled moments when he was awakened to Verstappen‘s passion and talent for racing.

“The gap between Perez and Max was quite big,” van der Garde said to Sky Sports F1 Podcast. “But you could see straight away, the head goes down, you see him getting angry and putting in lap times that nobody could.

“The gap was from, I think, 11 or 12 seconds and suddenly it was like three or four seconds. The pace he had was just amazing.

“Max at the moment has so much confidence. He feels so at-one with the car, with the team, with his engineer.”

From a young age, Verstappen was tipped to go onto great things. He broke onto the F1 scene aged just 17 after a very successful F3 campaign.

However Van der Garde, who lived with the Verstappens when training with Jos, was exposed to his passion for racing whilst the current championship leader was little more than a toddler.

“I lived more or less half at his [Jos Verstappen] place in Belgium,” Van der Garde continued. “Max at the time was three or four years old… and in the evenings we were playing PlayStation together with Max because he was still young.

“But when he was losing, he was even trying to throw the controller away. He was angry, he was already very passionate about racing.”

Van der Garde, who competed in F1 for Caterham, added: “From the beginning Max has something special. In his eyes, the way he does things; the confidence; the way he plays with the car; the way he races…

“When I see him racing, there’s just so much control and it’s just unbelievable.”

Verstappen’s first Formula Renault test

Verstappen won 24 karting appearances before debuting in open-wheel formula cars. He drove in the 2014 edition of F3, against fellow F1 driver Esteban Ocon, and claimed 10 wins in the series despite not being in the best team.

He was then signed to Toro Rosso for 2015, after Red Bull beat Mercedes to his signature and the rest is history.

But van der Garde recalled the time Verstappen experienced wet conditions in Formula Renault, and the mastery he already displayed as a novice.

“He was doing a test in England with MP Motorsport,” van der Garde continued. “For the first time in a Formula Renault car and I had Jos on the phone and he said, ‘I don’t know what’s happening but in the rain he’s like one second quicker than the guy who’s already raced for one year.'”

And that was his first morning in the race car. He said ‘This is unbelievable what’s happening here’, so that was the first time I already heard the amazing stories.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

F1 will return with the Italian Grand Prix, which will be hosted from September 1-3. Max Verstappen bids to break the record for most consecutive wins, by surpassing Sebastian Vettel‘s total of nine set in 2013.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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