Newly-promoted Red Bull F1 racer Max Verstappen feels he hasn’t slept for three nights following the confirmation that he will replace Daniil Kvyat in the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
Verstappen insists he can cope with the expectation of driving for a frontrunning team, despite the circumstances of Kvyat’s demotion from the team just one race after he finished on the podium in China.
Kvyat was relegated to the Toro Rosso team following his high-profile clashes with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap of the Russian Grand Prix, coupled with poor qualifying results.
“To be honest, I think I haven’t slept for three nights,” Verstappen told Ziggo Sport’s Peptalk show on Dutch TV. “I was very motivated to go directly to the team, because you know it is a top team where you have a better chance to reach the podium.
“When I got there, I actually couldn’t stop; lots of simulator work and spending as much time with the team as possible.”
When asked if he was worried about the speed with which Kvyat was jettisoned from Red Bull’s top squad, Verstappen responded: “As long you hit the throttle there is nothing to worry about – that’s what I need to do.
“And if you don’t, you expect you will be out. So we need to make sure we do.
“[The pressure] doesn’t change, you always try to do your best. Whether that is in a bit less competitive car, or a better one, that doesn’t change.”
Sensed that something was afoot
Verstappen was quizzed about the circumstances of the days that followed the Russian GP, and how his promotion came about.
“Well, the race didn’t go according to plan for Red Bull in total, so from there you see Helmut Marko walking around and you ‘feel’ some conversations,” he said. “And slowly it moves your way.
“We felt it coming, a bit. We went to Austria and, of course, we talked with Helmut Marko [Red Bull’s motorsport advisor]. From there, the deal actually came together quite quickly.”
Verstappen admits his move won’t be simple, as he has to fit in with Red Bull’s operations and learn a completely new car.
“In every car you want to do your best,” he said. “You have a very good team-mate [Daniel Ricciardo], of course, who has proven that he’s really quick.
“I try to learn as much as possible, because you are getting in a new car within the season and that’s not easy. But I have a lot of engineers around me who are helping me with that, and hopefully within a couple of weekends I can get some good results.”
Additional reporting by Tim Biesbrouck