Max Verstappen has said this week he will try to keep his off-track commitments to a minimum in order to concentrate on his racing. The reigning world champion spoke about the various distractions in motorsport during a press conference ahead of the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. The Dutchman said: “Even if there is no COVID-19 for sure I’m not going to do more… on weekends because I’m there to race, I’m not there to entertain the crowds. “I’ll entertain them by doing that on the track. Otherwise you get upset, you don’t feel good and it’s going to hurt your performance.
“So you need to just keep it exactly the same, the same approach as other race weekends.”
Verstappen is often seen with his father Jos when he is not in the Red Bull car.
Jos is himself a former F1 driver, and has played a pivotal role in helping his son reach the top of the sport.
But the two Dutchmen have also revealed that there is a fiery side to their relationship.
Jos remembered an F3 race in 2014 when he leaned over the pit wall to cheer his son on.
Speaking to his son’s sponsor CarNext in January, Jos said: “I even hung over the pit wall in Formula 3 to encourage him to go faster. I have to say, it helped.
“He saw me as a lunatic. Hanging over the pit wall.
“Luckily, he doesn’t need that now. It’s in him and he brings it out now. He knows how to qualify.
“At the beginning of his career in Formula 3, he had to search for that perfect lap.
“He has improved enormously in Formula 1. Now he is the man to beat on the track.”
As The Sun reported in December, Verstappen previously commented on his relationship with his father when he was a young boy, revealing that he fell out with his father in 2012.
He was 15 at the time, when his dad kicked him out of his van as a punishment for crashing in the second lap of a world championship kart race in Sarno, near Naples, Italy.
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While Jos left his son at a petrol station, Verstappen junior had to be picked up by his mum, go-karting champion Sophie Kumpen, according to reports.
Recalling the row, Verstappen once said: “I should have won that race easily. On the first lap, someone overtook me and I wanted to regain my position on the next lap.
“I tried to pass on a very fast turn. He didn’t see me and we hit [each other].
“My dad worked very hard that weekend and I threw it all away. He was very angry and didn’t talk to me.
“On the way home, about five miles away, he said something to me and we ended up arguing.”
Jos also told the Daily Mail in December: “I didn’t speak to him for six or seven days. It was a big mistake he made.
“I was very angry, disappointed and he really needed to think about it, not just for an hour or two, but longer. I knew what I was doing.
“I think it helped him and shaped him. It is not my job to advise him now.
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“We talk about everyday life and I am here if he needs me. But he is his own man and all I can do is sit and watch and hope he gets a little bit of luck.”
Jos’ closeness to his son has caused issues during Verstappen’s F1 career too.
Graham Watson, who now runs the sister team of AlphaTauri, revealed that in 2016, Jos had to be asked to take a step back.
He told Motorsport.com in January: “Jos was of course also used to having full control over Max’s career from the karting days.
“When Max came to us, the team looked different than it does now, less professional. Jos perhaps doubted whether our team was of the level to help his son further in F1.
“I noticed this especially in the fact that Jos tapped my shoulder every day and asked: ‘Graham, what about this and what about that?’
“At one point I had to be a bit blunt and say: ‘For f***’s sake, just let the team members do their job.’
“Only when Max came to Red Bull did they tell Jos that he really had to take a step back.
“I don’t have children myself, but I can well imagine that letting go of your own son is quite difficult.”