SAINT-TROPEZ, FRANCE — Max Verstappen is within touching distance of taking out back to back Formula One championships, but the ambitious 24-year-old won’t take his foot off the gas in his pursuit for glory.
Fresh from taking out the Dutch Grand Prix, Verstappen is a staggering 109 points clear in the drivers’ championship.
Such is his staggering season to date that a series of podium finishes could be enough to seal victory.
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But that’s not his way, nor Red Bull’s, and Verstappen has quickly turned his attention to a maiden victory at Monza.
“I’m feeling good but I’m also worried that things can happen quickly,” Verstappen said, speaking at a cross promotion event alongside Red Bull Team USA ahead of this weekend’s Sail GP in St Tropez.
“If you’re ever (forced into) retirement, 25 points are cut and we cannot afford that.
“We just have to stay on top of it.
“You can finish position three-position four and it will be fine but that’s not how we operate as a team.
“We still want to win races but of course we cannot afford a DNF.”
His serene march to a second title is in stark contrast to last year’s extraordinary finale, where the Dutchman clinched his maiden championship in dramatic fashion over seven-time winner Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen credited his team for ironing out some early kinks.
“To be honest, I think it is two things,” he said.
“The car’s now completely new compared to last year, so it’s very difficult to compare that.
“But I think also as a team, we have been operating really well.
“We didn’t really make a lot of mistakes. Just at the beginning of the year we had two retirements which were very costly at the time.
“But overall I think we’ve done a great job, but of course we look at things we can improve when we win races, you know,
“It’s never good enough.”
Sergio Perez paid tribute to his Red Bull teammate, describing Verstappen’s season as “tremendous”.
“It’s been a good season as a team,” he said.
“Certainly, I think in the last few races, I’ve lost track with the upgrades. I’m certainly not as comfortable as I was with the car in the beginning of the season; something that we keep working on.
“And yes, Max has had a tremendous run, and most importantly the team.
“We are leading the constructors’, but things can change very quickly so we have to keep pushing. There are still seven races to go.”