Max Verstappen says he can't use his youth as an excuse as he heads into his fifth season of Formula 1.
The Dutchman joined the series in 2015 at the age of 17, becoming the youngest driver in F1's history. He debuted for Toro Rosso before gaining promotion to Red Bull Racing just over a year later, and has since taken five Grand Prix victories.
Despite being just 21 years old, Verstappen says his experience outweighs his age, and he can't use the latter to cover up his mistakes: “I can’t consider myself like that any more because I’ve done four seasons," he said to Reuters in Barcelona.
"It’s going to be my fifth season so there are no excuses any more and you have to be mature. I was never Mad Max. I was just Max who was trying to get the best result for the team.”
Verstappen had a mixed 2018 season, taking seven podiums in the final nine races of the year. However, he was involved in a number of incidents in the first half of the season, including a crash with former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen also came together with Esteban Ocon at the Brazilian Grand Prix while leading the race. Ocon attempted to unlap himself which saw both of them spin, leading to an angry confrontation post-race that saw Verstappen receive two days of public service.
As part of his service, Verstappen spent time with the race stewards. When asked if that work had changed anything for him, Verstappen said: “As a driver I will always be the same guy.
“I always try to get the best result out of it, I’m not there to just sit second or sit third. I’m a winner and I want to win every single race and I will always go for it.
“If you are fighting for the championship sometimes second is enough, for sure. But I’ve never been in that position yet in Formula One, so every opportunity I get to win a race I will always go for it.
“My aim is to be here for 15 years at least. I’ve got another 11, and I’m 32 then,” he said. “Maybe I can drive until I’m 36 or 37. 40. It depends on how long you like it as well. Maybe 42.”