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“Couldn’t believe I was talking to a 17 year old!”: Former World Champion talks about the moment he met Max Verstappen

Somin Bhattacharjee
|Sun Jan 09 2022

Damon Hill admitted that he was taken aback and surprised at how mature Max Verstappen was when he first interviewed him. 

Verstappen made his F1 debut at the age of just 17 when he signed for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso in 2015. Since the get-go, he was tipped as a future World Champion and his driving was praised by fans and pundits alike.

He signed for Red Bull just a year later and became the youngest F1 race winner of all time when he won the Spanish GP in 2016.

Now 24-years old, Verstappen is approaching the next season on the back of his maiden title-winning campaign. The 2021 season saw him in a battle for the Championship with the legendary Lewis Hamilton, in which he prevailed.

Also read: Red Bull and Max Verstappen expected to have a slow start in 2022

In a recent episode of the F1 Nation Podcast, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill and co-host Natalie Pinkham spoke about the Dutchman’s maturity in his early racing days.

“It’s getting back to what you were saying about his maturity,” Hill said. “Do you remember, Natalie, we interviewed him when he first was signed up to drive?”

“We interviewed him. And I just couldn’t believe I was talking to this 17-year-old who absolutely had an answer for everything. He was so just completely confident that his view was correct.”

“He had confidence in his own views, and he had answers. Unbelievable!” the former Williams driver added.

The Dutch GP showed how comfortable Max Verstappen handles pressure

Verstappen started the 2021 Dutch GP with the weight and expectations of his country on his shoulders. Almost every person in Zandvoort was waving an orange flag that day, cheering their national hero on.

A lot of drivers would succumb to the pressure, but Verstappen put in one of his finest ever performances to win the race comfortably.

Pinkham feels that his ability to cope with that amount of pressure in addition to his maturity makes him an unstoppable driver.

“He’s just got this steely nerve that I find so impressive. And that he takes so much in his stride, given that he’s still only 24,” Pinkham added.

“He acts much older than his years. We saw it at Zandvoort, didn’t we? The pressure that he was under, and he just took it all in stride.”

Also read: Sergio Perez is enjoying his autonomy in Formula 1

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