Max Verstappen has revealed he still gets stressed at the start of every grand prix weekend despite dominating the current F1 season and building a near-unassailable advantage in the title race.
Red Bull driver Verstappen has arrived in Monza for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix targeting a fifth successive victory, with questions now on when, not if, he will win his second championship.
But asked if he was no longer stressed given his comfortable situation, Verstappen replied: “There's always stress. Well, there’s always positive stress.
"We always want to get the best out of the car and the package in general, so in that sense it's similar.
“It doesn't really matter if you are leading the championship or not, you always arrive at a weekend and you want to do the best you can.
"So, naturally, you are a bit stressed. You have to make sure that everything works well.”
Despite that pressure, Verstappen said he is “always relaxed” and added: “Even last year when the lead wasn't that big, we always felt good and confident.
"With the lead we have now, it's nice and it's great, but we still want to win more races.”
Lack of pole positions no concern for Verstappen
Red Bull started the year with a slower car over a single lap compared to Ferrari, with rival Charles Leclerc claiming pole in six out of the first eight races, leaving Verstappen relying on better strategy calls to overhaul the Monégasque.
Verstappen believes the team has clawed back performance, even though he still only has four pole positions.
Despite that, he added: “At the beginning of the year, over one lap we just didn’t have the pace and we really had to get everything together to be able to win races.
“Also, I think some races, due to strategy and stuff, we got ahead, not on pure pace. That explains a little bit why we have fewer pole positions but at the moment more wins."
Despite the 109-point chasm to Leclerc, Verstappen believes that does not reflect the reality of the title battle.
“To be honest, for me, it was always close up until maybe one or two races [ago]," he said.
"Spa not, but up until then it was always very close and it was always just a question of are we going win it or are we going to be second.”