Max Verstappen says titles, not teams, at centre of his F1 ambitions
Young Dutch star says it "doesn't matter with which team" he goes on to enjoy success in F1 with amid interest from Mercedes & Ferrari
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 04/01/16 9:45am
Max Verstappen says winning multiple world championships, rather than driving for any particular team, represents his ultimate F1 ambition.
The 18-year-old made an immediate, and record-breaking, impression during his debut F1 campaign with Toro Rosso and scored two fourth places to end the year as the season's best-placed rookie driver - results which saw him recognised at the FIA and Autosport end-of-year awards ceremonies.
Verstappen is tied to a long-term Red Bull contract, but that has not stopped speculation that rivals Mercedes and Ferrari are already positioning themselves for a future battle for the Dutchman's signature.
While drivers have historically harboured ambitions to driving for Ferrari - with Sebastian Vettel the most recent to fulfil his dream - Verstappen says he doesn't mind where his success in F1 comes - as long as it does.
Speaking in an exclusive end-of-season interview with Sky Sports News HQ, the Dutchman said: "My ultimate dream is just to become world champion. And not only once.
"So that's my dream and it doesn't matter with which team it is."
Verstappen's Red Bull contract is thought to run until 2018 and he will spend a second year with the company's junior team Toro Rosso next season.
"It's good to do another year here and to learn a lot again because you never stop learning," he said. "I still have a long way ahead and am still very young, so I don't mind to stay here another year."
The Dutchman will race alongside Carlos Sainz, who also made his F1 debut in 2015, for a second season and comparisons are regularly already made between two of the sport's brightest young talents.
Verstappen admits he personally looks at how he measures up against the grid's bigger names, despite his inexperience.
"To be honest, I never compare myself with the rookies," he admitted. "It's not really a championship, but definitely it's always nice to be on top of it and to score the most points. But you want to compare yourself with the best of the best and that's definitely the more experienced guys."
Becoming the first 17-year-old to race in F1 after a stratospheric rise through the junior ranks, Verstappen admits he "can be very happy about my first season".
"I enjoyed it a lot," he added. "Some good overtaking, which is what I like. Some good points scores and two fourth positions, which are the highlight. [The season was] better than expected, that's for sure."
F1's youngest driver wowed pundits and fans with a succession of bold overtaking moves during the campaign, with tyre supplier Pirelli calculating that Verstappen completed passed more cars than anyone during the year.
The Dutchman's overtake of Sergio Perez at the Brazilian GP prompted Sky F1's Martin Brundle to proclaim "that's why Max Verstappen will be a world champion."
"It's very nice to hear, especially already in your first season of Formula 1," Verstappen replied when told of Brundle's comment. "To be honest, I was also very happy with the move. It was definitely one of the best I did and the best controlled.
"So it's very nice to hear, but you try and stay very neutral about it and try to focus on the next races."