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Behind the scenes with Max: 'I can't imagine a life without motorsport'

Published on 27 March 2024 by FORMULE 1 Magazine

This article previously appeared in FORMULE 1 Magazine, on pole for thirty years! For more news on Max Verstappen and Formula 1, visit
Author: Frank Woestenburg

Behind the wheel of his Formula 1 car, Max Verstappen cruises uninterrupted, the silence only incrementally broken by the voice of his engineer GianPiero. Out of the car, he is thronged by celebrities. Over the course of a series of meetings, we ask him about his life outside of Formula 1.

This the second part of Max's story. Read the first half here on

You are the idol to so many children. Children, from preschool, are fans of Max Verstappen, or at least know who he is. That must bring an enormous responsibility.
“That’s right, of course that’s also beautiful, but I hope above all that these children want to be themselves. That’s the way I was as a child. I looked up to no one. I hope that that’s what they get from me: always try to be yourself and don’t try to imitate what someone else is doing. Of course it’s fun to be a fan of someone, or to think: I want to do that when I’m older too. Because success is inspiring. But they shouldn’t want to be a second Max. When I was a child, I only had a poster of my dad on my bedroom wall. I think my mom had put that up.”

Speaking of idols. You met Brad Pitt a few times this season, because he’ll take the lead in a new movie (Apex) about Formula 1. Have you seen his films?
“Yes, many. Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and so on, I like him in those roles. I love movies anyway, and Brad Pitt is a great actor. During the American Grand Prix in Austin, I saw a couple of clips for the new film. They were shown during the Drivers Meeting, with some explanation how they had filmed those scenes. It’s cool to see that, that’s not my issue, but in truth it doesn’t interest me so much. I don’t have to watch a movie about my own sport. This movie is about a made-up scenario, which means it will get overdramatized, and you need to be into that. I don’t really.”

How’s your acting? In the paddock you have to act, spelling some things out and toning down other things.
“I don’t really think of that as acting. It’s just the world you live in, that’s how that works. It's more playing at times. I'd rather not do that of course, but it's part of the political game you have to play in Formula 1 and a lot of other sports. Over the years I've become a little more adept, a little wiser, in what I do and don't say. But overall, I'm still mostly myself and definitely not an actor."

You talked about Ocean’s Eleven and that you love movies. Do you ever go to the cinema?
“I’ve gone a couple of times in Monaco, but not a lot. Most of the time we’ll watch something at home, it’s just easier. It’s one of the prices you must pay for being recognizable, for now, but as you grow older and stop racing, that will diminish a bit. I know, there’s a video of Messi in a restaurant, without hundreds of people in front of the door, while he’s just trying to eat something with his wife. That’s undoable. He’s playing football right now in Miami, but also there he will not be able to just cross the street. It’s luckily not that intense for me.”

I do recall the story that your mother wanted a new tv for her birthday and you took her to Mediamarkt in Roermond and had to leave via the backdoor.
“Haha, I think that was somewhere in 2015. I was getting more famous. I think that was the last time I was there. If I did that now, that wouldn’t be so sensible.”

Do you ever do winter sports or are you conscious of the dangers? Everyone knows about Michael Schumacher.
“Yes, dramatic and above all very sad. But on the other hand, you can slip in the shower and break your neck. There’s risk in everything. But to answer your question, I haven’t skied for five years since last winter because of the risk of breaking or twisting something. This all with the knowledge that in the coming years, I have a chance to win more races and become world champion again. When you think about that, it’s normal you’ll take less risks.”

Footballers often have it in their contracts that they’re not allowed to ski...
“Me too. No dangerous sports.”

In the passenger seat with your father in a rally-car, is that also a dangerous sport?
“Haha, you tell me. Biking is also dangerous. When I cycle, I do put on a helmet. But rally racing, going 180 kilometres an hour in between the trees, that I don’t see myself doing. Maybe in a deserted place. In any case, I try to be conscious about risks.”

Pivot: You were born in Belgium, and nowadays you live in Monaco, but do you feel like a Limburger? 

“Absolutely! I can’t identify with any other region. I am a Limburger and not a Brabander or an Amsterdammer."

And are you proud of the successes of other Limburger like Tom Dumoulin from the past - or something else - someone like Andre Rieu, who played the Dutch National Anthem with his orchestra for Formula 1 in Zandvoort?

Somewhat dry: “If a Dutchman excels, I automatically am happier about it than someone with a different nationality.”

Dumoulin stopped in 2022, because the love had somewhat died, and he didn’t have the motivation anymore.
“Cycling is in that respect an extreme sport; in the way you have to live for it. I couldn’t do that. It’s a lot lonelier than Formula 1. I see them often in Monaco, all those cyclers with a training plan. And there they are, five or sick hours a day on a bike. I couldn’t manage it. If I go for a run, I do it with my trainer. I need someone with me to train, alone I wouldn’t make it. Cyclers of course sometimes cycle in groups, but in reality, they do a lot alone. I have a lot of respect for that.”

Back to Andre Rieu. He is almost 74, and still inspired and travels the world with his orchestra.
“Well, I don’t think I will still be in the paddock when I’m 74. There are men that age milling around, but I wouldn’t like that.

Can you imagine a life without motorsport, that you eventually completely distance yourself from it?
“I can imagine it in theory, but no, now I can’t. Right now, I’m in the middle of it and we’re busy with all of it, with Racing. We’ll see what the next couple of years bring. But believe me, when I’m 74 we won’t be seeing each other in the paddock anymore.”

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