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Max Verstappen: ‘If you don’t believe you can do it, it’s better to stay home’

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Never one to lack faith in his own abilities Max Verstappen is, as ever, brimming with confidence before his fifth season in Formula One. Such is his prodigious talent and indeed his assurance in it, the popular conception is that it was ever thus. Yet, on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen unusually admits that even he once harboured shades of doubt. They are, of course, now long since dismissed, summarily dealt with in the forge that has made his personality so strong, a process he concedes was tough as a child but from which has emerged a world championship contender.

Verstappen, now 21, started karting aged four, encouraged by his father Jos who raced in F1 in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2015, at 17, Verstappen became the youngest driver to compete in a grand prix, a year later he was the youngest to win a race, in Spain for Red Bull, the team for whom he still drives. He has been impossible to ignore, his talent braced by a self-belief of positively belligerent conviction. He is outspoken, entertaining and F1 must hope he is the future. It is the past that has defined why he believes he will be.

“You have to be honest with yourself, that is most important,” he says. “I learned it from my dad. He was always very hard on me but in a fair way. When I was seven or eight I was already taking it seriously. When other competitors were playing football in the paddock, I was working with my dad to try and get the best out of it. At the time I thought: ‘Should I really be like this? Should it be the way I am working?’ But I am really happy we did that.”

There is no sense of regret, nor has it prevented him from growing into a young man with a natural ebullience and now the Verstappen package seems more rounded, more complete and more threatening than ever to his rivals.

Last season every side of Verstappen was on display. The opening six races were peppered with small but costly mistakes. He rebuffed criticism with pugnacious refusals to change his driving style, offered to headbutt anyone who asked about it and was vocal in his frustration with his team’s Renault engine. But in the second half he let his driving do the talking, taking seven podiums from nine races and a win in Mexico. Yet he could not quite throw off the “Mad Max” tag, after his on-track tangle with Esteban Ocon in Brazil ended with him confronting and shoving the Frenchman after the race.

What has emerged it seems is a driver applying greater, more rigorous, self-analysis. It would be trite to simply say Verstappen has grown up but nothing builds character quite like experience, especially in racing.

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“You need to be able to talk to yourself about what you can do better or what went wrong. To really be able to analyse everything really well. I have learned how to deal with those things.

“There are always things which can be improved. Sometimes it is good to make mistakes, it shouldn’t always be great and amazing, you need a few setbacks to become better.”

This is the first season in Red Bull’s partnership with the engine manufacturer Honda. The team look a little behind Ferrari and Mercedes on pace and are braced to take some hits on engine reliability as Honda push hard to improve performance. A key test for Verstappen is how he will react if Honda fail more often than the team have bargained for.

However, with Daniel Ricciardo departing for Renault to be replaced by Pierre Gasly, Verstappen is now Red Bull’s lead driver. The team principal, Christian Horner, is adamant the Dutchman is up to the task, praising how he has evolved and insisting he now has “the tools to take the fight to Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel”.

I felt by driving a little slower I became better after those six races. Every single race I learn
Max Verstappen
Interestingly, Verstappen’s assessment of those opening six races reflects Hamilton’s oft‑repeated commitment to taking the positives from every experience. “My dad always told me: ‘Even when you think you are not going fast enough you are still by far quick enough,’” he says. “I felt that by driving a little slower I became better after those six races. Every single race I learn. Whether a win, or a podium or retire, you always learn.”

Verstappen knows he needs the machinery beneath him to be in the title race and this season Red Bull and Honda probably do not have it. Yet he is in no doubt he could fight Hamilton or Vettel if he had the car. “It would be stupid not to think like that,” he says. “It would be better to stay home if you don’t believe you can do it. Of course it sounds arrogant to think like that but it would be stupid not to.”

His detractors have cited arrogance as a flaw in the past but it is really the necessary self-belief shared by the greats. It reflects the promise on which he is determined to deliver having held fast to lessons learned when his childhood contemporaries were having a kickabout. “You have to be hard on yourself. No lying to yourself. Normally racing drivers have a lot of excuses.”

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Tennis Phenom Leylah Fernandez Shares Her Love For Soccer

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Leylah Fernandez had a stellar 2021 and bagged her first-ever trip to a Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. In addition to her superb play at Flushing Meadows last September, Fernandez started the 2021 season off right.

 

 

In March 2021, she sailed through her first four matches at the Monterrey Open to reach the final there. In the final at the Monterrey Open, Fernandez dominated Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, 6–1, 6–4, which gave Fernandez her first-ever WTA career title at age 18. In defeating seven total competitors, Fernandez was also the youngest player in the main draw, and she marked the extraordinary feat of reaching the final without dropping a set.

Currently, the Canadian-born Fernandez is ranked No. 24 in the world. Just before the New Year, she was named the 2021 Canadian Press Athlete of the Year.

Yet, while Fernandez is squarely focused on continuing her ascent in the tennis world, she will tell you that picking up the tennis racket wasn’t her first foray into sports as a youngster.

“I started sports by playing soccer. It was my first sport and in some ways my first love,” Fernandez said, in a recent Zoom interview. “I remember watching (Canadian soccer legend) Christine Sinclair at a young age, and taking in her commitment and dedication, watching her as a player throughout the years.”

Fernandez adds that it was Sinclair’s devotion and work ethic—and perhaps Sinclair’s remarkable 188 in 30 games as a Canadian international– that helps inform Fernandez’s own approach to tennis now.

And of course, Fernandez says she was ecstatic when her home country took the Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer last summer in Tokyo.

“Seeing the Canadian women win the gold was heartwarming. When they finally won, I was jumping for joy, just like every other Canadian soccer fan.”

Leylah Fernandez had a stellar 2021 and bagged her first-ever trip to a Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. In addition to her superb play at Flushing Meadows last September, Fernandez started the 2021 season off right.

In March 2021, she sailed through her first four matches at the Monterrey Open to reach the final there. In the final at the Monterrey Open, Fernandez dominated Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, 6–1, 6–4, which gave Fernandez her first-ever WTA career title at age 18. In defeating seven total competitors, Fernandez was also the youngest player in the main draw, and she marked the extraordinary feat of reaching the final without dropping a set.

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Currently, the Canadian-born Fernandez is ranked No. 24 in the world. Just before the New Year, she was named the 2021 Canadian Press Athlete of the Year.

Yet, while Fernandez is squarely focused on continuing her ascent in the tennis world, she will tell you that picking up the tennis racket wasn’t her first foray into sports as a youngster.

“I started sports by playing soccer. It was my first sport and in some ways my first love,” Fernandez said, in a recent Zoom interview. “I remember watching (Canadian soccer legend) Christine Sinclair at a young age, and taking in her commitment and dedication, watching her as a player throughout the years.”

Fernandez adds that it was Sinclair’s devotion and work ethic—and perhaps Sinclair’s remarkable 188 in 30 games as a Canadian international– that helps inform Fernandez’s own approach to tennis now.

And of course, Fernandez says she was ecstatic when her home country took the Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer last summer in Tokyo.

“Seeing the Canadian women win the gold was heartwarming. When they finally won, I was jumping for joy, just like every other Canadian soccer fan.”

At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo last July, the Canada women’s national soccer team went 1-2-0 in the group stage and then eeked out a win over Brazil on penalties in the first knockout round. Then, after beating the United States USM -2.9% 1-0 in the semifinals, Canada went on to win the gold medal over Sweden, beating them 4-3 on penalties, August 6, 2021.

Now on top of being perhaps Canada’s biggest soccer fan, Fernandez has also gotten involved in promoting what Pelé himself once called “the beautiful game.”

Youth Athletes United, a multi-brand youth sports franchisor behind such ventures as Soccer Stars, Amazing Athletes, TGA Premier Sports, and JumpBunch, announced a new partnership with Fernandez, just this week. Youth Athletes United promotes youth sports not only for the fun of it but also considers soccer and other sports such as tennis and basketball as a means to which kids all across North America can use sports to develop character and learn life lessons.

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THE SOCIAL SLICE: LEYLAH FERNANDEZ MAKES IT BIG WITH GOOGLE PARTNERSHIP

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Every week, dozens of tennis players from around the world post on their social media. From funny videos to training updates, there are simply too many accounts to keep track of. That’s why we do the work for you by selecting the best posts from across the world of tennis.

Welcome to the Social Slice:

Leylah Fernandez
You may have heard of Leylah Fernandez. The 19-year-old reached the final of the US Open last year alongside Emma Raducanu, making her a teenage sensation overnight. Now, the Canadian is making it big with sponsorships, sharing her latest commercial with Google. She showed off her table tennis skills in the company’s latest commercial for the Google Pixel 6.

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‘Classic Complaint’: Serena Williams’ Coach Patrick Mouratoglou Takes Daniil Medvedev to Task Over On-Court Remarks Against…

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Round 4 of the Australian Open saw top seed Daniil Medvedev take on American Maxime Cressy. Even though on paper, the match should have been a breeze for the Russian, that wasn’t the case.

 

 

In fact, Medvedev seemed to lose his demeanor today completely, yelling frustratedly throughout. He even admitted to trying to get into Cressy’s head by calling him lucky on his serves.

Now, Patrick Mouratoglou, known for coaching Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsitsipas, has some words for Medvedev about his behavior.

The Coach does not approve of Daniil Medvedev’s objections
At one point in the match, Daniil Medvedev had yelled “this is so boring!” owing to his opponent’s playing style. Cressy, at 6’6″, seems to be heavily reliant on the serve-and-volley style. So much so that the American played no other way throughout the four-setter today.

Then, Medvedev resorted to mental tactics, trying to offset Cressy by yelling about his serve, and how he was simply getting lucky by staying inside the line on his explosive serves. Moreover, he also complained to the umpire about the time Maxime was taking in between serves.

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Thus, when he called his Amerian opponent’s playing style “boring”, famous French coach Patrick Mouratoglou had some words for the Russian. He called Medvedev’s objections a “classic complain(t) of the baseliners.”

Medvedev himself is a player who prefers staying near the baseline, seldom coming close to the net, during rallies or returns. Mouratoglou called it a complaint of all such players “when they play vs Serve and Volley players.”

In his interview after his victory, Medvedev called his tussle with Cressy “a great match”. However, he admitted that “during the match, (he) got a little bit crazy.” Then, he addressed his vocal frustrations on court.

“I tried, you know, to say something in the air, but getting to his (Cressy’s) mind a little bit,” the World No. 2 admitted. Thus, he hoped that this way, “maybe he (Cressy) is gonna miss some shots.”

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