Max Verstappen is relishing Formula 1’s return to Europe and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – the site of his maiden grand prix victory – for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
Verstappen became F1’s youngest ever race winner in Spain last year during his debut for Red Bull, having been given a shock promotion from its B-team, Toro Rosso, four races into the season.
The Dutchman was just 18 years old when he swept to victory in Spain, capitalizing on an on-track clash between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.
“Around this time last year I got the call to join Red Bull Racing, which was a great feeling, and then when it got announced everything happened really fast,” Verstappen said.
“I spent a lot of time in the factory getting prepared in the simulator in order to get used to the car. A lot of media attention, but I wasn’t really nervous, just happy that I was finally driving for a top team.
“Last year was such a special race to me and in the end we managed to pull it off. It was an incredible feeling once I passed the finish line, especially in your first race with a new team.”
While a victory for Verstappen seemed unlikely enough last year, the odds appear to be stacked against Red Bull even more so this time around given the dominance of Mercedes and Ferrari in 2017.
Red Bull is pinning its hopes on a significant update package for the RB13 car, with Verstappen hoping that it will give him the chance to take a step forward.
“We have to wait and see what the updates will bring,” Verstappen said.
“I hope we can be a bit closer to the top teams or that we can at least follow them. That would already be a good step forward.”