Despite winning his first Drivers' Championship title last year, Max Verstappen says his motivation to continue striving for success in F1 is even higher than it was previously.
Having won three of the 2022 F1 season's first five Grands Prix, Verstappen sits second in the standings behind Charles Leclerc, and has made clear that his desire to win races and titles remains undimmed.
"I've already said that if I win a championship, my goal in F1 is achieved, and anything else that comes after is a bonus, and I will enjoy it," Verstappen told CNN.
"It's not like, 'I've won a Championship now, so let's go party here, and let's go party there', and not be motivated.
"I think my motivation is even higher now to try to achieve that feeling, or try to feel the same thing again.
"At the same time, it's also more about trying to enjoy the weekends when you are away, and trying to spend a bit of time away from the F1 paddock and see the city more."
Verstappen still seeking to adapt and improve
Verstappen added that he is still seeking improvements, noting how the new-for-2022 aero regulations have forced drivers to adapt to the different ways in which the cars now behave.
"As a driver, every year you learn and try to improve," said Verstappen.
"That's natural, and especially when there are new cars [as in 2022], you have to adapt.
"In a way, maybe it was nice that we won [the 2021] title, and then we had completely new regulations for the new cars, so as a driver, you always try to improve.
"It's difficult to say, 'I really need to improve [a particular] aspect'. I think it's more about trying to be better in every aspect, and trying to be more consistent, trying to make less mistakes, all these kinds of things."
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Verstappen enjoying F1 title battle with Leclerc
While Verstappen's 2021 crown was won after a season-long battle with Lewis Hamilton, the Dutchman's main rival for 2022 appears to be Leclerc.
The pair know each other well, having first lined up together when they came up through the karting system during the early part of the last decade.
But while a few on-track collisions engendered a sense of animosity between the two during those early days, Verstappen says any tensions have subsequently cooled.
"We do remember those [incidents], and we can laugh about it now, because back then, of course, we were 14 years old, so it's 10 years ago, and now we are both in F1 fighting at the front, so I think we are in a good place, and hopefully we have a lot more battles this year," said Verstappen.
"Of course, people make [a rivalry between us] to make it look exciting, [but] I've known Charles for a very long time, and I just enjoy battling him on the track, having a good race, and I have fun out there."
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