Taking it to the Max in Barcelona

Max Verstappen gets used to his new surroundings in the Red Bull RB12
Max Verstappen gets used to his new surroundings in the Red Bull RB12

New Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen will go to the Spanish Grand Prix with no expectations after his surprise call-up to the team.

The 18-year-old replaced Daniil Kvyat at the Tilbrook squad last week, with the Russian returning to Toro Rosso where he began his career in 2014.

Verstappen, who has attracted attention from Ferrari and Mercedes following his sensational debut season, has started just 23 races but was promoted to the senior team at the expense of Kvyat.

And though the Russian has scored Red Bull’s only podium of the season, taking third in the Chinese Grand Prix, Verstappen says he’s not going to Spain with unrealistic ambitions.

“I go there with no expectations to be honest,” he said. “I just want to adapt to the car, understand it better and better every session and like I said before, study the data and see what my team-mate is doing because the most important thing is to score points.

“Of course I’m driving for a top team now, but in the end you always try to do your best which is what I always try to do. For me, I don’t feel more pressure.”

Max Verstappen at Red Bull's factory in Tilbrook

Max Verstappen at Red Bull's factory in Tilbrook

Christian Horner, Team Principal said: “Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent. His performance at Toro Rosso has been impressive so far and we are pleased to give him the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing.

“Dany will be able to continue his development at Toro Rosso, in a team that he is familiar with, giving him the chance to regain his form and show his potential.”

Verstappen added: “Hopefully the RB12 will be faster than the Toro Rosso, that’s the main target.

“I just hope to feel comfortable in the car. We’ll find out in Barcelona.

“I have never driven the RB12 before, it will be a new experience and there are a lot of procedures to learn, but I’m up for it.”

Verstappen’s promotion to Red Bull comes 18 years after his dad, Jos, was drafted in by the Tilbrook factory - then known at Stewart Grand Prix - as a replacement for an under-performing Jan Magnussen, whose son Kevin is on the grid driving for Renault.

The teenager made his debut at the Australian Grand Prix in 2015, and became the sport’s youngest points scorer in the following round in Malaysia, finishing seventh.

In a remarkable debut season, Verstappen finished in the points 10 times, including taking two fourth places in Hungary and USA as he beat highly rated team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.

This season, he has finished in the points three times, and sits 10th in the driver’s standings.