Former Max Verstappen Red Bull teammate, Alex Albon, gives us insight into what makes Verstappen almost unbeatable.
In this High Performance Interview with Albon, he explains what makes Verstappen special.
To make a long story short: although the car isn’t intentionally tailored to his exact needs, Verstappen seems to be the only one who can adequately handle its full potential — while everyone else suffers the more finely-tuned the race car becomes as the season progresses.
“The first thing is, a lot of people say that car is built around him; he’s kind of like Michael Schumacher at Ferrari; he’s created this team around him. But truthfully, the car is what it is,” explained Alex Albon, who has since flourished as a driver at Williams.
“Verstappen is very quick, so what ends up happening is… he has quite a unique driving style, actually, it’s not that easy to get along with.”
“Everyone has a driving style, I would say my driving style is a bit more on the smooth side, but I like a car that has a good front end, so quite sharp. Quite direct.”
“Verstappen does too, but his level of sharp and direct is kind of a whole different level. To give people maybe an explanation of what that might feel like…”
“If you play computer games at all — if you bump up the sensitivity, completely to the max, and you move that mouse, and it’s just darting across the screen everywhere, that’s kind of how it feels.”
“It becomes so sharp, that it makes you a little bit tense. So what ended up happening was, especially during my year as his teammate, you start off being a little bit behind, but not by much.”
“And then as the season goes on, and Verstappen wants this front end in the car — he wants his car to be sharper, sharper — and as it gets sharper and sharper, it goes quicker and quicker, and for you to catch up, you have to start taking a little bit more risk.”
“You might be a couple of tenths behind one session, you just try a little bit more. ‘OK I’ve gone off, I’ve had a crash.’ So then you’ve got to restart, and you’ve lost a bit of your confidence, a bit more time, that gap’s growing a little bit.”
“Then the next time you go out and try and do another job, another spin or another whatever. And it just starts to snowball, and every time the car becomes sharper and sharper, you start to become more tense. And I think it’s like any sport.”
“If you start to not be in that flow state, and you really have to think about it, and every time you go into a corner, you don’t know how it’s going to react, you don’t have that kind of… it’s purely the confidence in the car, that flow, it doesn’t work. It never works.”
This explains why Sergio Perez struggles to keep pace with Verstappen, just as Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon struggled before him.