F1 in UAE: Verstappen eager to push to the Max

Dubai - The Red Bull Racing driver looks to put Sakhir crash behind and triumph at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen. — AFP file
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen. — AFP file

By James Jose

Published: Wed 9 Dec 2020, 11:20 PM

From the ‘Home of Motorsport in the Middle East’ to the ‘diamond in the F1 crown.’ Following the double-header in Bahrain, the Formula One bandwagon trickled into Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, for this season’s final instalment of what has been an arduous season.

And the F1 ‘biosphere has been safely put in place with Etihad Airways, the title sponsor, operating 10 F1-liveried flights to transport everyone involved as well as five additional planes to bring in the huge amount of cargo.

It will still be some time yet before those mean machines hurtle down the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, with the first of the three free practice sessions scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon.

But Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen can’t wait to put pedal to the metal following a nightmare of a race for him that had failed to go beyond Turn 4 on the opening lap of the Sakhir Grand Prix.

“I’m looking forward to Abu Dhabi and I enjoy the track,” Verstappen said in a team statement.

“Coming from such a short circuit without many corners it will be good to get back to a more normal track with 21 corners. We finished second here last year and we have nothing to lose this weekend so it will be ‘full send’,” he added.

The 23-year-old Dutchman, who has been hailed as a future world champion, had a disappointing evening on the Outer Circuit configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit last Sunday, with his race cut short in the first lap itself following a crash.

“It’s still frustrating, we had a quick car and I was looking forward to having a good race for the team. There were three times during that opening lap that I tried to avoid contact but everyone seemed pretty aggressive and there wasn’t much more I could do,” Verstappen said about the crash.

Verstappen, the son of former F1 racer Jos, has had some decent results in Abu Dhabi, finishing second last year and third the previous year.

And Verstappen, who has nine wins from 118 starts, hopes to sign off on a high and then head into a much-needed break.

“It has been a crazy season and we now have one last push in Abu Dhabi and I think many of the team members are ready for a break,” he said.

Verstappen, who is one of three drivers to have pinched a win from the hegemony enjoyed by a bullet-proof Mercedes, said that the team will look to deny the German marquee.

“Although being second or third in the Drivers’ Championship doesn’t really make a difference to me, we will of course still be pushing for another win. As long as the team are pushing, which you can see from the upgrades and fastest pit stops, then I am of course pushing,” said Verstappen.

Verstappen, whose only win this season came at the 70th Anniversary British Grand Prix in August, is third in the Drivers’ Standings with 189 points, 16 adrift of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton has already sewn up the Championship.


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