Max Verstappen: The rising kid on the F1 circuit
Red Bull Racing's Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen
Abu Dhabi - Legends have come and graced the sport and left, leaving an indelible mark and Verstappen too is on that path.
When Jenson Button and Felipe Massa entered the big world of Formula One, Max Verstappen was in his diapers.
Years on and after Button became a world champion in 2009 and Brazilian Massa proved to be the ideal teammate, most notably to the great Michael Schumacher, Verstappen is taking some significant baby steps in the world of motorsport.
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And as Button and Massa enter the twilight of their career, with the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, set to be their swansong, rookie Verstappen, all of 19 years is giving the world of Formula One, an encouraging glimpse into the future.
Legends have come and graced the sport and left, leaving an indelible mark and Verstappen too is on that path. He is not the finished article just yet but the early signs are that of promise. Verstappen is the rough, uncut diamond that will perhaps go on and shimmer.
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Having raced for Scuderia Toro Rosso since his debut at Melbourne in 2015, Verstappen was jettisoned from the sister team to the big boys - Red Bull Racing.
The Dutchman replaced Daniil Kvyat four races into this season after the latter's erratic driving saw him return to Toro Rosso.
And Verstappen marked his Red Bull debut with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya. Despite a retirement in Monaco, Verstappen strung together some impressive results - two second places at the A1 Ring -Red Bull's home turf, and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
He also had a third at the German Grand Prix and then followed it up with two more second-place finishes at Sepang and Shanghai.
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Although he was criticised for his aggressive driving, Verstappen also won plaudits for his wet-weather driving at Interlagos, last time out.
And he is being hailed as the new Ayrton Senna. Verstappen has pedigree, with him being the son of former F1 driver Jos, who raced for Benetton, Tyrrell, Stewart and Arrows.
The transformation from villain to hero has been quick but Verstappen said it was not up to him to sit in judgement.
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"I don't think that's up to me. I just try to do the best possible race I can. I was definitely enjoying myself in Brazil but I'm not sure if anything has changed in terms of my reputation," Verstappen said at the Yas Marina Circuit on Thursday.
That drive in Brazil was exceptional to say the least and that was more to do his early karting days.
"I think everybody here did go-karting so you always learn from that as well. But it's just also when you are not in a competition and you are just having fun with friends. For example, you are driving on the snow or whatever. You are always trying something different. You're sliding and you're still competing against your friends, trying to have fun in one way but still trying to beat each other in something," he said.
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"That's what I've always done in winter time for example and somehow in a fun way you are still improving your skills. I think that definitely helps a lot. Then, together with my dad we practice a lot in those circumstances, also in the wet, he was helping me a lot, especially when I was six or seven years old. He was even standing on the track showing me where to drive, trying to find different lines and that definitely helped me a lot out there in Brazil a lot," he added.
Verstappen will be racing a full season for Red Bull next year and he hoped for an improved car.
"I think maybe that all depends on the package you get around you. So if it's the fastest car on track, for sure we can win races. So, we'll see. I think we're all very positive about next year but I think it's important to just wait and see when the car gets to the track. Then we'll know more. At the moment it's a bit difficult to say what exactly what I want to achieve for next year because you don't know what the packages are," said Verstappen.