Max Verstappen says he isn’t feeling the pressure of the title fight because winning the championship won’t change his life.
Heading into the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers’ championship by two points following his victory in Sochi, as he goes for his eighth title. Verstappen, by contrast, is chasing his first championship but says there is no point worrying about the outcome as his life won’t dramatically change whether he finishes first or second.
“It’s the same as always — we are very relaxed and we are very focused,” Verstappen said. “Of course we want to win — the whole team wants to win, so that mentality is definitely there. But there is nothing you can force or stress about, because we always want to do the best we can anyway. So that’s of course what we’ll try to do again this weekend.
“I always do my best and I know the team is always doing the best they can. If that’s going to be, at the end of the year (enough for) first, then that’s an amazing achievement and that’s what we work for, right?
“But I think even if we finish second we will have had a great season and at the end of the day it’s not going to change my life. I enjoy what I’m doing and I think that is also very important. For me there is not much to worry about, really.”
Although it was pointed out to him that winning the title would end Mercedes’ dominance of Formula 1 since 2014, Verstappen responded: “Yeah, but you shouldn’t really stress.
“I know that my team does the best they can and they expect that from me and I always try to get the best out of that. So we are fully committed of course to try and make this success together, but you cannot force things. You just have to work well and work hard together and then we will find out at the end of the season where that will put us. Is it first, or is it second? We don’t know.”
When told of Verstappen’s response, Hamilton said he believes his rival has the right approach to the battle, as the pair face seven races in 10 weeks to decide the championship.
“I think you can decide… it’s not a case of ignoring (pressure), as it’s there, but it’s the understanding that what will be will be,” Hamilton said. “All you can do is prepare the best way you can, all you can do is give it 100% and what’s coming up is coming up.
“I just don’t worry about those things, I’m very fortunate in the past I’ve had lots of ups and downs but had an amazing time, a lot of growth. I don’t worry about ‘what if’ — that’s up ahead. I try and prepare for now. That means making sure I’ve done the work with the guys back at the factory, Bono (engineer Peter Bonnington) and the team, and that ultimately we enjoy it.
“We’ve got to enjoy it. What an amazing season it’s been so far, it’s been super exciting for fans, massively engaging with Netflix around the world, new people coming in, we finally see two teams neck and neck which is amazing. And of course we want to win, but you’ve got to learn to let that not overtake everything in your life.”