LIKE FATHER

Q&A Jos Verstappen & Carlos Sainz

by BEN ANDERSON pics GETTY

As their sons forge names of their own, Jos Verstappen and Carlos Sainz talk being in the passenger seat

ďAs you go higher and higher I think they need more space, they need to be themselvesĒ

INGí Carlos Sainz and Jos ĎThe Bossí Verstappen have both been around the block themselves in professional motorsport. Now theyíre proudly watching their sons make their own marks at the pinnacle of single-seater racing with Toro Rosso.

MOTOR: Both of you have had successful careers in motorsport in your own right, so whatís it like now, being Ďracing dadsí and seeing your sons living out their dreams?

Jos Verstappen: Well of course very proud. We worked very hard, and when you see them doing well itís a pleasure. Iím more than happy.

Carlos Sainz: Iím very happy, especially for them, because behind all this is a lot of work, a lot of dedication, a lot of effort, and I think itís well deserved.

MOTOR: How much guidance do you offer?

Obviously you have experience that other parents donít. How much do you get involved and how much do you stand back?

K CS: This is not my world, so I cannot help Carlos as much as Jos helps Max in certain areas, because he has much more experience in F1. I try to advise in general things, in attitude, how I would approach certain situations.

MOTOR: Youíre more the regular parent?

CS: Itís probably a little bit different to Jos, but I try my best!

JS: I advise Max in all areas. First of all you are a father for your child, and secondly we did everything together. In go-karts I organised everything. I was his mechanic, his engine builder, sponsorÖ I gave Max everything I knew. I have done formula sport, all categories. I know my mistakes and I try to help Max not make the same mistakes. In driving, I tried to teach him as much as I could, but thatís more in the lower categories. Here in F1, everybody has his own style. You watch other drivers on track and because you have raced yourself, you have a feeling for it, and thatís what you try to help your son with. In all areas we try to help.

MOTOR: How do you balance that desire to use your experience with trying not to interfere too much?

CS: As you go higher and higher I think they need more space; they need to be able to be themselves.

But you cannot forget that they are very young people, they are still developing as a person, so I think itís good to maintain a certain reference. I cannot come to all the races due to my own career, but I try to be in contact.

JV: Itís the same in Maxís case, but because he went from go-karting to Formula 1 in such a short time, even last year in F3 I was very much involved.

I donít say I was running the car, but I was very close to the engineerÖ Then suddenly he is in Formula 1.

I absolutely donít want to get involved with the team and Max. I have a good relationship with the engineer, thatís for sure, but I donít know if they change anything on the car. I donít want to know, because itís Maxís job and thatís what he has to understand and learn, because thatís his future. I think in the coming years I will be there, but when he grows up I donít think he wants his father there all the time. I understand, and also I am already trying to step back as much as I can, because he has to develop his own thing, his own life.

MOTOR: Has it been more difficult for you to do that, Jos, because of the relationship youíve had before?

JV: I thought it would be harder but itís fine. But also, honestly, you see the career is going well, you have some good results and heís doing well, and if thatís the case itís easier to step back.

MOTOR: Is it the same for you, Carlos?

CS: There is a difference between us, as I say, because I am very limited in knowledge about Formula 1, people in F1, also engineering in F1. If you ask me about rallying, I can talk a long time! I have been also developing the Polo [Sainz assisted with initial development of the VW WRC car in 2012-13] and working so I know technically everything, but technically I know nothing in F1. So for me itís more looking and learning and trusting the team, trusting the engineers, trusting Carlos, and just hoping everything is coming together properly.

MOTOR: Do you talk about whatís going on?

JV: We talk about things, but not about the car or set-ups, because I donít know!

CS: More general things than technical things; I am not so expert.

MOTOR: So you might talk more about whatís going on in the paddock?

JV: Whatís going to happen, what engine we will haveÖ

Horseís mouth

YOUNGSTERS are usually a bit embarrassed by their parents, hoping to find any opportunity to escape their clutches. After all, would you want your dad hanging around while you tried to look cool in front of your mates?

But things are very different for Carlos Sainz Jnr and Max Verstappen. The Toro Rosso team-mates see their respective fathers as iconic figures within their chosen profession, and valuable allies who can help them progress.

For Verstappen, the relationship is quite involved, because Jos has been immersed in Maxís career from the start. ďI donít see him as a typical racing dad because I think there is not one fatherand- son relationship like we have,Ē says Max. ďYou get more and more experienced all the time, but I always like him to be around. To me itís a very normal feeling because we never did anything else in the past. Itís definitely not something thatís disturbing me. He still has some tips for me sometimes.Ē

For Sainz, the relationship is different. His father is less Ďinvolvedí and more of an interested spectator, who has tried to instil professional values from an early age.

Sainz Jnr says that he is grateful for this education now that heís in F1, but as a child it was frustrating to feel the need to live up to the expectation of a name made famous by his fatherís two WRC titles.

ďNow I feel itís an advantage, but if you asked me when I was 12, 13 years old I was saying not, because I didnít have a name [of my own],Ē he says. ďI was Ďthe son ofí, Ďthe son ofí, Ďthe son ofí and people wanted to beat me, to say, ĎI beat the son of Carlos Sainzí.

ďI felt everyone was against me, and it was frustrating, but at the end it made me stronger, made me better.Ē

I think a father shouldnít go anywhere that creates a problem with the team

MOTOR: I bet thatís a big conversation!

JV: At the moment!

CS: At the moment itís an important topic.

Ed's note: since this interview took place itís been confirmed Toro Rosso will use Ferrari power units for the 2016 F1 season.

MOTOR: Have you bonded a little bit over that?

JV: In the same boat, exactly.

MOTOR: Did you know each other before F1?

JV: No, we met for the first time this year somewhere.

CS: Jerez.

MOTOR: The first test?

JV: Yes. I must say it works really well.

MOTOR: Do you ever feel the need to be cautious speaking publicly about your sons?

JV: We all have to be careful but thereís nothing really to say because both are doing a fantastic job.

Everybody can see how fast they are.

CS: One thing we discussed after a few races is with the pressure they have, they are doing a good job, both. Not having crashes, not having big discussions together, I think they have a good relationship and they are doing a good job. I try not to talk a lot about Max, but I can say both are doing a very good job.

What we say also after a few races is, you know, letís try to help each other. Thereís space forÖ JV: Öfor both drivers to stay in Formula 1.

CS: For both drivers. Not necessarily one is strong and the other goes out of F1. I think they are both showing goodÖ JV: Öpotential to have a long F1 career. A lot of people are surprised about that, so thatís good.

MOTOR: Probably the only really tense moment came at Singapore [when Verstappen refused a team order to let Sainz past]. Did you two talk about that?

JV: We havenít talked about it.

CS: We havenít talked about it, but this is something I am always against Ė team orders. It can only generate friction. I have my own opinion, I donít think I will express my opinion, but it did not generate any friction, and the only thing I can say is in general; I am not saying on that occasion Max should do that or Carlos should do thatÖ I didnít like team orders in Monaco, I didnít like team orders in Malaysia, or other places, and Iím sure we are all agreed.

JV: Of course there was a little bit of tension in the team, letís say, but they discussed it themselves, and I think thereís also a learning school for all of them Ė a new situation. They have to go through that to be better drivers for the future. Still, when you see them at the hotel, they speak a lot together; I must say they get along really well.

MOTOR: Did either of them come to you after that to ask advice?

JV: Not to me.

MOTOR: That shows good maturity.

CS: We spoke, he [Carlos] asked me. I said: ďWhen you have a problem with somebody, what I have done is I talk with that person.Ē

JV: Exactly.

CS: If I have a problem with my engineer, I talk with my engineer, if I had a problem with (former team mate) Colin McRae at that time, I spoke directly with Colin, or if I had a problem with Malcolm Wilson or with David Richards I spoke directly with whoever I had the problem with. That is my advice: if you have a problem, speak frankly.

MOTOR: Is it difficult to balance being a parent and wanting the best for them, and just letting them get on with their own thing? Formula 1 is certainly a very adult world, and it can be quite vicious, quite difficult.

CS: They are sitting there with the engineer and you know nothing what is going on Ė what they are deciding, what they will do. They are coming out, you may ask what they are testing, or how does it look, but they donít even talk too much Ė at least Carlos to me.

JV: I speak to Max maybe 15, 20 minutes a day, during the day. I stand in the garage, to see what tyres he is on, and the rest I donít know Ė and this is also how it should be; I think a father shouldnít go anywhere that creates a problem with the team, and thatís absolutely what I donít want. I do everything for my son, but I do everything until the moment it might harm him.

MOTOR: So youíre basically both on a jolly!

JV: Itís a sort ofÖ yes, we donít have a lot to do, but I must say itís very tense. When they are in their car, and especially on race day, qualifying, itís really sometimes very nervous.

MOTOR: Do you feel the nerves, Carlos?

CS: The tension Ė itís not only in Toro Rosso. You walk around when the F1 teams are preparing for the race, that is why F1 is so intense. This is a very nice sport, which generates a lot of tension, a lot of adrenaline.

JV: Adrenaline, yes.

CS: Itís good. We are motorsport people. I like F1, rallying, MotoGP, rallycross, I turn on the television, I see a Formula Ford race and I watch!

JV: Iím exactly the same! We canít stay at home.

MOTOR: Itís a family business!

JV: It looks like it! M