Max Verstappen hopes that he can replicate two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso as he continues his impressive burgeoning career.
Max Verstappen is hoping to replicate two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso as he continues his impressive burgeoning career.
The Toro Rosso teenager broke a host of F1 records as a 17-year-old last season, ending 2015 12th in the drivers' standings with 49 points, well ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sainz got his own back by beating Verstappen into ninth at the 2016 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, infuriating the Dutchman, who directed several expletive-laden radio messages to his team throughout the race.
Verstappen, son of former F1 racer Jos, perhaps shares a fiery temper with Alonso, who fumed at his McLaren-Honda's "GP2 engine" at last season's Japanese Grand Prix, although it is the Spaniard's humility and on-track achievements that the Dutchman wants to emulate most.
Asked by Gazzetta dello Sport if he had any idols on the track, Verstappen replied: "Honestly, no. I always like Fernando Alonso because he remains the same person despite winning a few world titles.
"I hope that is what happens to me as well. While other drivers have changed, Fernando is the opposite along with [Sebastian] Vettel.
"Drivers that are comfortable with their team and know how to motivate them always stick out to me.
"Vettel is a great example of that. He knows who to work with the mechanics and everyone is on his side. I think that spirit is the most important thing for a driver."
Verstappen brushed off a suggestion that he and Toro Rosso stable-mate Sainz could become the new Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost after their inter-team squabble in Melbourne.
He added: "There is only one Senna and one Prost.
"We always want to beat one another on the track but that is normal amongst team-mates.
"I don't see it as a fight as I always want to improve. We've had some great moments away from the track and I hope that doesn't change."