After a 2020 campaign that saw him finish third in the F1 standings, Max Verstappen has his sights set on bigger and better things this season.
The Dutchman is in the thick of the world championship fight with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, a welcome change from last season when Max always got the feeling Red Bull were coming up short. However after three races this season the title dream is very much alive.
RacingNews365.com spoke with the Red Bull driver about how much things have changed compared to 2020.
Max, last year you were pessimistic about 2021, but things are going very well now. What are the changes that helped Red Bull compete at the front?
"I always try to be realistic in terms of expectations. We have changed many things about the car which we knew were not optimal last year. However, we could not make these changes during the season.
"I think we made a good step forward because of this."
Can you indicate in which areas progress has been made?
"The balance of the car is better, but we have more power during the races. Actually, the car has improved in all areas."
It's important for drivers to have a car that is predictable and does exactly what they expect it to do. As a result, the driver sometimes has a different opinion than the team as to what should be done.
Who decides the set-up of the car, you or the team?
"There are several people working on the set-up of the car, even before you go to a race weekend, but also during the weekend itself. A lot of things are then also tested in Red Bull's simulator."
And if there is a difference of opinion?
"The final decision lies with me and my engineer."
This weekend, Verstappen will drive in his 100th Grand Prix for Red Bull in Spain. It's a big milestone for the Dutchman, who has experienced highs and lows over those 100 races.
You've already achieved a lot in Formula 1. What are you most proud of?
"My very first victory [Spain 2016] of course remains very special. Especially because you never know if you are ever going to win a race when you get to Formula 1. Obviously that was always the goal, but then you have to get the chance to do it. That moment, that was very special."
What moment have you learned the most from in Formula 1?
"There are so many moments. You still learn every weekend. I don't think I can choose one moment. In the end, there are many moments."
In the next part of the interview, Verstappen talks about his relationship with Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.