The summer break approaches with pleasing rapidity...for some. Those who've been on the travelling circus for the past six months are ready to welcome a break, but for fans, August is a tough month.
The post-race test wrapped-up this weekend at the Hungaroring and the trucks are on their way back to Milton Keynes. It's almost time to put down the self-propelling pencils, turn off the radio and lock the factory doors for a two-week stretch. It's also a good time of year to take stock of the season so far. Today, Max Verstappen answers our questions.
It's been a frustrating time for Max. The majority of mechanical gremlins seem attracted to his side of the garage, and a couple of times he's been bundled out of races on the first lap as the unwitting passenger in somebody else's drama (though F1 tends to even those out in the long run). On the plus side, whenever he's had a car beneath him, he's put it to good use, usually providing a few thrills for the crowds along the way, many of whom seem to be dressed in orange and fully paid-up members of the Max Verstappen fan club. Whatever happens to him, it's never dull...
Max, how would you sum up the first half of the year. It seems to have gone really fast!
It's been an interesting season so far. Of course, the retirements are not positive – but in general I think we have to be happy with the performances. Perhaps we expected a bit more but it is how it is and you make the best of the situation.
You've passed 50 race starts already. How does that feel?
To be honest, it feels like I've been here a long time! Hopefully we can get up to 250 or something like that!
You've been box office this year and had some really good battles – in particular with Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone. How did that feel?
Really, really good. I enjoyed it. Sadly, we weren't fast enough to hang on, but I wasn't going to give up the position easily. We had a good fight. Hard but fair, I think.
You've had incredible support this year. Every race but particularly those in Europe, has had a large contingent of fans dressed in orange. Is that gratifying, or does it add extra pressure?
It's definitely a boost. There's more of them every year! The fan support from Holland has been massive and it's really, really special to see it. It's not added pressure: you're always trying your hardest so it doesn't create any more pressure than that which you put yourself under. I think it's very positive.
Away from the track, we've had you do some pretty crazy things too. What's been the most memorable?
Well, I really enjoyed the ice hockey in Salzburg but the best has to be the caravan racing at the Red Bull Ring. I was laughing so much at one point I was crying. I think Daniel was too. It was amazing.
There has been a recent update to the car – how does that make you feel going into the second half of the year?
Of course, we're always trying to improve. Hopefully the updates will push us further forwards. The aim is to be closer to the front, getting things ready for next year, challenging the leaders.
We're likely to see an even bigger, even more orange, crowd in Belgium next time out. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah! It's my favourite track and a bit of a home grand prix as well – lot of Dutch fans will make the short trip too. Last year was pretty crazy and I'm looking forward to it again.