Max Verstappen has kept himself busy over the winter period by swapping his Formula 1 car for DTM in Portugal.
The three-time F1 World Champion did the test in a Ferrari 296 GT3 car along with Thierry Vermeulen, the son of Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen. For two days they drove laps around Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, ahead of the 2024 season.
"The goal of the test with Max was to support Thierry and improve our performance using Max's feedback," said Team Boss Frey-Hilti says against the German Motorsport-Total.
"Max has been in the car on both days. On the first day they alternated and drove about 100 kilometers. We've tried a lot of different things. It was an honor that we could use his services and test as a racing team with him. That was really brilliant."
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Verstappen showcases world class
Vermeulen enters the DTM class for Emil Frey Racing in 2024, and will drive in the colours of Verstappen.COM Racing. It's also no coincidence, as the Dutchman is coached by Verstappen's father, Jos Verstappen.
Frey-Hilti was impressed by the skills of Verstappen at the wheel of the GT3 car, but also noted his personality off track.
"It's always interesting to meet a well-known person. You think you know that person, but if you meet him in real life, you experience a completely different person," he added.
"It's wonderful to see how much passion he has for motorsport and what he has achieved. Even in a GT3 car, his feedback was of a very different level than anything I had seen before. He is world class."
Given the difference in performance between an F1 and a GT3 car, you would expect it would take a while for Verstappen to get up to speed. But it was not a problem for the Dutchman, who managed to showcase his raw speed from the start.
"He crawled behind the wheel and in the first flying lap he was right there. If you look at the onboard images and the data, it's very impressive how he handles the car, how quickly he adapts and always squests the maximum out of it."
"There were also other GT3 cars that day, but I can only say that Verstappen was driving on a different level than the rest. There are good drivers who cannot shine in a GT3 car due to a lack of experience, but Max is different. If something has four wheels, then it's fast in.
"In terms of car development, he's brilliant. The car is different from an F1 car, but physics works the same everywhere. Max' input helps a lot when we test different settings. This helps Thierry and the team a lot."