Rapids, records and a Shanghai surprise

The first third of the season hasn't quite turned out the way Max Verstappen might have planned. For a start, he's been bounced around in a raft on a boiling river in Canada, towed and totalled a caravan behind a supercar at the Red Bull Ring and broken the lap record at a track that doesn't feature on the 2017 F1 calendar.

As for the on-track performance it's been a similar tale of the unexpected, with the frustration of technical problems balanced by brilliant drives through the pack to the podium. Here are his thoughts on the first seven races of 2017...

There was obviously a disappointing end to your race in Montreal, so we'll gloss over that, but otherwise it looked like a good weekend off track. How were the rapids earlier in the week?
Yeah, the rafting was great fun; a good way to start the weekend in Montreal. I like doing those kind of fun activities before a grand prix. There are not many times you get those kind of opportunities, and it's still exciting to do those things. As a driver you're always looking for a certain excitement, so it was pretty good.

Has there ever been an activity Red Bull have presented you with that you were daunted by or questioned?
So far, in all the things we have been asked to do, it's never really been scary, so that's a relief!

I think at the moment we just have to keep working hard.

How was the caravanning at the Red Bull Ring?
The caravan thing was the most fun thing we have done so far. At one point Daniel and I were laughing so much we were almost starting to cry.

We're a third of the way through the campaign, so what are your thoughts on the season so far?
So far it maybe hasn't gone to plan - or at least not quite how we wanted it to go, but we just have to try to make the best of the current situation. We're constantly improving, which I think is always positive and then we'll see at the end of the season if we are able to close the gap or not. I think at the moment we just have to keep working hard.

Have you been encouraged by the development you've seen so far?
It's definitely brought us closer but we need to keep working harder than the others because they are also constantly bringing updates. It won't be easy but we'll give it our best shot.

Obviously at the start of the season your goals were in a different place, so have you reset them to some degree?
To be honest before the season started I really never had any expectations or goals because you don't know what the car is going to be like. As soon as you start testing and do the first few races you more or less see where you are and I think at the moment we are definitely the third best team and we need to catch up, so that's the goal for me: trying to catch up.

Was the performance in China a particular highlight for you? It really showed what you could do.
Yeah, China was definitely the highlight. Finishing on the podium from so far back on the grid after the issue we had in qualifying was really good. To get a podium was totally unexpected, so yeah, it was great.

At the start of the season there was a lot of talk about the extra training everyone was doing in pre-season. Have you seen the value of that so far?
Definitely the work I did in pre-season compared to last year was good. Especially with the wider cars this year and more G-Forces, the work was definitely necessary. At the moment I feel like I'm in a good place but you always want to improve.

Have you felt the extra physical workload in the car?
So far it's been good, so I guess that means I had good preparation. I haven't really struggled with the physical side, so I'm happy about that, especially as the cars are going two or three seconds faster per lap.

We've seen you translating that extra capacity into lap time, especially on the show run you did in the Netherlands where you broke the Zandvoort lap record. How important is it to get involved in those campaigns and for people who don't normally see these things?
It's good. This year we have a few things, such as the Fit with Max thing, there are thousands of people asking me questions during it so it's quite enjoyable. Plus I've got my face on a can of Red Bull again! Last year it was good fun and this year it's the same – good fun.