BARCELONA Max Verstappen was the least excited man in the room on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as he assessed his prospects of success in making his Red Bull debut in Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) Spanish Grand Prix.
The Dutch teenager, whose remarkable maturity belies his actual teenage years, said he felt the Red Bull organization took a much bigger risk in handing him his F1 debut with Toro Rosso last year than in transferring him to their senior outfit.
At just 17 years and 166 days of age, he was the youngest driver to start a grand prix when he raced in Australia last year.
Facing a packed news conference ahead of his first race for Red Bull, he made light of all expectations and excitement around him.
“I’m very happy with the chance they have given me,” he said, referring to his promotion to Red Bull to replace Russian Daniil Kvyat who has been demoted and will revert to his seat at Toro Rosso.
“I’m racing for a top team which was always the plan and what I wanted to do. I think it was a bigger risk to be so young, making my debut in Formula 1, but I thought I handled it pretty well and now it is about getting used to a new car.
“It is not easy midway through a season, but the things I’ve already done at the factory have given me a lot of confidence. It will come race by race, but I will definitely enjoy it.
“I’ve always been very happy with Red Bull and now they have given me a chance to be in the top team there is no reason to change,” he said.
“I will try to continue like that as I’m very happy at the moment.”
Verstappen, the son of Jos Verstappen, a team-mate of German legend Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1994, finished 12th in the 2015 world championship with 49 points.
His achievements were marked at the FIA (International Automobile Federation) world governing body awards ceremony in December when he stole the limelight from Lewis Hamilton, collecting the Personality of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Action of the Year awards.