Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claims that nobody in racing speaks about death, as its necessary to accept the risk that comes with it. The Dutchman took part in a detailed interview with broadcaster Ziggo Sports, in which he was shown a series of photographs.
The most recent F1 racing-related death came at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, when Jules Bianchi made contact with a crane that was out to bring away another crashed car. Upon being shown a picture of Bianchi's funeral, Verstappen, who made his free practice debut the very same weekend, said: "The accident happened at the Japanese Grand Prix at which I made my debut in free practice.
"It was bittersweet. I didn’t know him. He was already an F1 driver, whereas I just arrived. It was tragic. You instantly knew something was wrong; there was no movement after such a massive impact with the crane. It’s awful, but there are always risks.
"Personally, I’ve seen someone die on the race track before. In 2009, during a karting event, I saw someone being reanimated and I knew it was bad. A few hours later, we got confirmation. Again, it’s not great, but you have to move on. You cannot be scared in this sport. If you are, you can’t give it your best. In racing, nobody talks about death."
Following his Grand Prix debut in 2015, Verstappen has picked up three Grand Prix victories and a further eight podiums. Since his promotion to Red Bull, he has enjoyed a strong and healthy relationship with teammate Daniel Ricciardo, admitting its unusual for teammates to get along so well.
"It’s unusual to get on this well with a teammate," he said. "Normally you would go your own way, but we get on really well. I don’t think we’ll see this type of friendship too often in Formula 1. Having said that, we don’t really hang out outside the paddock but at the circuit we’re friends with a lot of respect for each other."
The pair's relationship was tested when contact was made between them at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, which eliminated Ricciardo from the race. Despite some immediate tension the situation blew over, but Verstappen admits that he understood why Ricciardo was upset following the incident.
"I understood why Daniel was so angry afterwards. We laughed about the whole incident later, but in the heat of the moment, emotions run high. I would’ve been the same had it been the other way around. It wouldn’t be right if we weren’t emotional in those moments, especially if you want to be the best and win. We’re not in this for second place!"
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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