Max Verstappen is learning to levitate! Before he had time to look around, the world champion’s engine shut down

Youngest driver ever to compete in a Grand Prix. The youngest racer to record the fastest lap. And among other things, Max Verstappen is also the youngest driver in history to ever win a race. The two-time defending F1 champion (chasing a third title this year at decisive speed) born in Hasselt, Belgium is simply a phenomenon of our time and it is quite possible that he will add many more to the aforementioned records. But what about hovering?

Most, if not all, car enthusiasts want to learn to drift. Anyone who has ever tried it – whether at mileage in a “big” car or in a go-kart – knows that it takes courage and a lot of practice. Encouraging skid is easy, but maintaining it is another matter. Verstappen is sure of this.

True, Max was much better equipped than most of us at first. Instead of a luxurious Bavarian triple, the real drifter Mazda RX-7 powered by a four-rotor Wankel tuned to 600 horsepower is steaming. It should float by itself, right…? Plus, Max proves to be an accomplished pilot – but only in tracking. How to deal with sideways driving is the question.

Photo: Red Bull

Mike Whiddett aka “Mad Mike” (left) is a professional drifter and former Formula Drift Champion. The 42-year-old from Auckland loves fast, loud and dangerous racing, so it’s no wonder he then turned to the frenetic Stadium Super Trucks.

Verstappen was mentored by the man who knew this fearsome Mazda best. Mike Whiddett nicknamed “Mad Mike” (Mad Mike) is a 42-year-old native of Auckland, New Zealand. Since 2009, he has participated in the elite Formula Drift series, the highest drifting competition in the world. Over the years he was one of the best from around the world until he finally won the championship in 2018.

After ending his career as a professional drifter, he became an ambassador for beverage giant Red Bull, but he doesn’t hate racing. Because he loves speed, danger and the roar of engines, he participated in Australia’s crazy (read super fun) Stadium Super Trucks series, in which huge SUVs circle around closed tracks, crash into each other and fly through the air.

“Have you ever been swept away?” asked Whiddett, sitting in the passenger seat in an uncharacteristic way. “No, not at all,” Verstappen admitted, before his engine stalled as he tried to start it. “Don’t be afraid to give him a nice drink, the car loves to spin,” the drifter encouraged the F1 champion. “We’ll drive a little straight, then you’ll drive a little wider, pull on the handbrake, downshift and correct the car on the gas…”

Once Max got used to the drifter’s aggressive clutch, he swerved without flinching, so it was time to move on to what’s called a figure eight. ‘Next step – figure eight. The approach will be exactly the same, again you will help yourself a bit with the handbrake, just extend the corner a little and about halfway there you will start turning the car to the other side, then back again, okay?’

Photo: Red Bull

The specially modified 1992 Mazda RX-7 was powered by a four-rotor rotary engine producing up to 1,100 horsepower rotating up to 11,000 revolutions. Sequential gearbox or hydraulic handbrake must not be lost. Naturally, this car does not have electronic assistants such as ABS, anti-skid or stabilization, which will only limit professionals behind the wheel.

At first Max was hitting the big inflatable cone, but eventually he got used to it. “I notice you lack coordination, especially with the clutch,” said Whiddett. “Yeah, to be exact, it’s a big habit for me,” Verstappen admitted. The single seater F1 does have a clutch, but only as a lever on the steering wheel and is only used to start from a standstill.

Eventually, both competitors switched to a discipline called Scandinavian swing. “Okay, we’re going to Scandi for the three of us. Watch how the car shifts the weight,” Whiddett suggested. admitted Verstappen (who would have thought?) “Sure, Max, whatever you want. We’re just going to wait until the kids release the cones we dropped from the chassis. What do you think, is that a quick enough stop for you?” joked Whiddett.

However, that’s not all – his mentor prepared final exams for him. “While Max is having lunch we will put the cones away and arrange a Horner turn for him and see if Max can slap his boss’s life-size hand.” . “Maxi, just calm down, don’t stress. But this time you go alone—I’ll get behind one of the dolls and follow you. But it’s best not to get too close…”

In total, ten likenesses to Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner took to the drifting ring, with Max Verstappen scoring 8 of 10, a decent score. So after an initial look, Max mastered the sideways motion very well. Although the same is true here for his career in F1: He is an incredible talent, sitting in a great car.

Camilla Salazar

"Unapologetic social media guru. General reader. Incurable pop culture specialist."

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