Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he never thinks about the mental side of things, he enjoys F1, and drives as fast as he can.
The Red Bull pilot – who aged 18 became the youngest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix in 2016 in Spain – is gearing up for the curtain-raising race of the season, the Australian GP in Melbourne this weekend.
Verstappen – who added two further victories to his tally in last year’s championship to sweeten the frustrations of seven retirements – told The Guardian he never pauses to consider how strong he is feeling mentally.
“I never even think of the mental side of things because I never had any issues,” said Verstappen, who is now 20.
“If you are a bit weak in your head maybe you can train your mind but it will never be your strong point.
“Many people ask: ‘What do you need mentally to succeed in F1?’ I say: ‘What do you mean mentally?’ I just enjoy it and drive as fast I can.
“But so many people think your psychology is such a massive thing. For me, it’s not necessary.”
Verstappen, whose father Jos also competed in Formula One, had an incredible record in karting racing of 68 wins in his first 70 races. He says that early success shaped his enormous self-belief.
“You always have to believe in yourself and I had that from karting,” said Verstappen.
“I was never one of those kids saying: ‘Is it all going to be all right?’ If you start doubting yourself like that, thinking: ‘Am I good enough?’ – maybe there is a reason you’re thinking that.”
Verstappen, who finished sixth in last year’s championship with 168 points, says he is pleased with what he has seen of this year’s car and even dares to hope it is better than the one which saw him finish last season with two victories in the last six races.
“I hope it will be better than that,” said Verstappen.
“I’m very happy with the progress but we have to wait until Melbourne to see where we are.”
As for whether he will one day be crowned world champion, he is more circumspect.
“I always think if I have the right car, the fastest car, then I can become world champion,” said Verstappen.
“But you need to have that car and so far I haven’t had the fastest package.”
Provided by AFP Sport