F1 champion Verstappen ‘felt 16 again’ while learning to drive drift car

F1 champion Verstappen ‘felt 16 again’ while learning to drive drift car
Max Verstappen (right) completed a lifelong ambition to learn to drift driver with professional drift driver, Mike Whiddett (Red Bull/Patrik Lundin/Greg Coleman/PA)

Formula One champion Max Verstappen said learning to drive a drift car was “the most nervous” he has felt and compared his drive to being “16 again”.

The Red Bull racing driver completed a lifelong ambition to learn how to drive a drift car and try out complex manoeuvres such as high-speed doughnuts, figure of eight and a challenge dubbed the Horner Corner named after the British former racing driver and team principal of the Red Bull F1 team Christian Horner.

Drifting is a type of motorsport that requires oversteering the vehicle enabling it to drive sideways through corners.

Verstappen took to the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire on July 6, ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which had large cardboard cutouts of Horner with an oversized hand designed for him to drift in a circle and clip the large cardboard hands.

Plumes of smoke became visible and sparks were flying from the exhaust as Verstappen, who said it was his first time drifting, took the drift car for a spin around the track.

“I’ve never drifted in my life. Here and there I drift a bit in my F1 car, but by far not like anything we’ll do today,” Verstappen said.

Verstappen was joined by professional drifting racer Mike Whiddett, known as Mad Mike for not shying away from thrills or adrenaline, to show the F1 racer how to achieve complex drifts.

Mike Whiddett stood next to cardboard cutout of man with an oversized handVerstappen completed the Horner Corner challenge as he clips the oversized hands of Christian Horner in a circle on the track (Red Bull/Patrik Lundin/Greg Coleman)

The pair sat in a Madbul drift car where Verstappen was challenged to complete a series of manoeuvres.

The Formula One champion said trying the drift driving was “not natural” but called the experience “very crazy”.

“Learning to drift in the Madbul with Mike was very crazy, I didn’t know what to expect,” the 25-year-old driver said.

“I think it was the most nervous I’ve been in the past two years just because it’s not natural to how I normally drive.”

Mike Whiddett and Max Verstappen stood by a drift carVerstappen drove with professional drift driver Mike Whiddett around Millbrook Proving Ground (Red Bull/Patrik Lundin/Greg Coleman)

Verstappen added that the drive reminded him of his teens when he first drove an F1 vehicle.

He said: “It felt like I was 16 again and jumping into an F1 car for the first time!

“As soon as the engine started and I began drifting with the wheels spinning, I got more into my natural zone where I was finding the limits of the car, as I do in F1 – I felt that same adrenaline rush and my instinct took over.”

He also explained drifting was something “you can’t compare” to F1 racing as “it’s so different”.

Race car travelling at high speedsVerstappen’s vehicle can be seen emitting plumes of smoke as it reaches high speeds (Red Bull/Patrik Lundin/Greg Coleman)

The custom built MADBUL vehicle is an FD3S Mazda RX-7 with 600 horsepower, which is around half the horsepower of an F1 car at 1050HP, enabling the vehicle to travel sideways.

Speaking of his time with Verstappen, Whiddett said the pair “pushed the limits” and hopes one day to see if he can complete the same drifting tricks in an F1 car.

“We really pushed the limits with Max and I hope he’s learnt some awesome tricks he can take to the F1 track – drifting is as raw as it gets,” he said.

“I’d love to try out these challenges in an F1 car and see what’s possible in Max’s seat next time.”

To see Verstappen in action, you can watch him here:

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