Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Max Verstappen interview: Red Bull driver aims to 'finish on a high' in Abu Dhabi after mixed season

Dutch driver has two race wins in 2019 and will be pushing for a third at Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 29, 2019. Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. --Max Verstappen of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing interview with The National. Victor Besa / The National Section: SP Reporter: Simon Wilgress-Pipe
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 29, 2019. Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. --Max Verstappen of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing interview with The National. Victor Besa / The National Section: SP Reporter: Simon Wilgress-Pipe

The first day of practice for the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix took place on Friday, and the teams and drivers have their first indication about what might happen over the remainder of the weekend.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen remains calm about what lies ahead and, despite already looking forward to next year, he is focused on laying down a marker at the end of the 2019 season with a strong finish.

"It's the end of the season. Everybody seems a bit more relaxed, but you always want to finish on a high and get a good result, so we'll definitely go for it," the Dutch driver told The National.

While the drivers' and constructors' titles have already been wrapped up by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes respectively, Verstappen still expects a competitive race at Yas Marina Circuit. "I don't expect any difference," he said.

Red Bull have endured an inconsistent season this year, but Verstappen is satisfied with the way things have levelled out.

"I think it's been all right," he said. "The two victories [in Austria and Germany] were nice. Of course, we had a few difficulties at the start of the season and after the summer break, but we learned a lot. So overall it's been positive. I think everybody is excited for next year now."

Friday proved an an eventful opening day in Abu Dhabi, but Verstappen is unconcerned about the practice session will indicate come qualifying and the race.

"Today was just the first practice, which is not really representative for qualifying," he said. "It was just about getting a decent feeling from the car."

He does enjoy the challenges of Yas Marina Circuit, though.

"The facilities and everything here, amazing," he said. "The corners are quite slow so there's a lot about being very precise, so if one corner doesn't work out or you make a mistake, you're not well positioned for the other one. It's such a different challenge, so that is good."

_____________________

Photos from Abu Dhabi GP Friday practice

_____________________

In an interview with The National, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan cited Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc as being the two drivers most likely to give Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas problems next year. This expectation doesn't faze Verstappen.

"I mean for me it doesn't change anything," he said. "I just have to focus on myself. You always have to believe in yourself, that it is possible, and, if we have the car, I'm very positive that as a team we can do it."

Pressure is not an issue for the driver, either. When asked if he felt pressure, Verstappen looked blank and said: "No. Not at all. I enjoy what I'm doing, so for me it's not like there's any pressure to it.

"I just listen to people close to me a lot. It's not only Formula 1 anyway. Your life is about a lot more than Formula 1. I think many drivers forget that sometimes. I enjoy doing other stuff in my free time and it's good to balance it out a bit."

Updated: November 30, 2019 08:04 AM

SHARE

SHARE