Formula 1: The insatiable Verstappen wants the World Cup hat-trick

Even double world champion Max Verstappen lets himself go.

Formula 1: The insatiable Verstappen wants the World Cup hat-trick

Even double world champion Max Verstappen lets himself go. During the winter break, the Formula 1 superstar from the Netherlands put on a whopping ten kilos.

Just before the start of his World Cup hat-trick mission, Verstappen lost weight again within six weeks. The Insatiable is back in title form and ready for his third coronation in a row.

"My favorite number is three, so we'll do our best to win the third title," Verstappen announced before the first Grand Prix of the year on Sunday (4 p.m. CET / Sky) in Bahrain. "I don't know if we'll be good enough to achieve a result like that, but the team believes we can do it." Of course, the 25-year-old believes in it himself.

Eat and drink whatever he wants for a month

Verstappen needs a measure of self-indulgence after a long, austere season. He always feels a little under his normal weight during the year, as he told "De Telegraaf". But for a month after the last Grand Prix he eats and drinks what he wants. The usual five kilos of winter bacon became ten. "I like to hurt myself a little," said Verstappen, laughing at the torture in the gym.

The impressions of the tests in Bahrain are that Verstappen did not harm the gluttony. In contrast to previous years, the company car with the abbreviation RB19 appears fast and reliable right away. These findings are sobering for the competition.

Ecclestone: Verstappen like record champions

"There are always drivers who dominate for a long time, Lewis (Hamilton) did it, for example. It always goes together that an outstanding driver drives for an outstanding team. It's repeating itself now," said the former Formula 1 driver. Chief marketer Bernie Ecclestone of the German Press Agency on Verstappen's potential to found an era.

He already sees the two-time world champion on a level with the record champions Michael Schumacher and Hamilton. "He has absolutely the same qualities as a driver. He should be mentioned in the same breath with them, for sure," said Ecclestone.

Verstappen's rivals want to prevent an era. "I hope not," said Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc about a possible further triumph for Verstappen. After a rocket start in the past season, including the opening victory in Bahrain for the Monegasque, the "cavallino rampante" (prancing little horse) developed more in the direction of the seahorse over the course of the season. In the end, Leclerc was still the runner-up in the World Cup. "It's still too early to talk about it," said Hamilton, who, like Schumacher, won the World Cup seven times, about a Verstappen era.

3, 15, 454 - Can Verstappen get any better?

Numbers play a big role for Verstappen. As mentioned, three is his favorite number. He drove with her when he was young. Verstappen was not allowed to start with the three at Red Bull because after his promotion in 2016 they were occupied by Daniel Ricciardo's then sister team Toro Rosso. So he switched to 33. That should almost double Verstappen's luck. That has worked well so far - even if he is now chasing the one of the world champion over the asphalt.

Last season, Verstappen won 15 Grands Prix - more than any other in a year. He also scored 454 points - more than anyone else before. Can Verstappen get any better? "What he has achieved is phenomenal," said team boss Christian Horner about his superstar. "But the more experience he gains, the more versatile he becomes. He's also incredibly good at handling pressure."

Verstappen has long been looking for those fractions of a second that he can still get on the way to the third title. "Of course he can improve," said Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan. "He won't thank me for that statement, but there are areas where he can improve a bit. He'll look inside and see what he can do better this season." And be it to get rid of annoying pounds again.