MONACO (Reuters) - Monaco’s famed casino holds no attractions for Max Verstappen but the 20-year-old Dutchman is much more willing to take a high-speed gamble on the unforgiving streets of the Mediterranean principality.
Red Bull have been dominant in practice for Sunday’s showcase grand prix, a race that could see Verstappen line up as the youngest Formula One driver ever to start from pole position.
The current youngest is Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, on pole with Toro Rosso in 2008 at 21 years and 73 days. Verstappen turns 21 on Sept. 30.
To achieve it, the Dutchman will have to beat team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was in commanding form on Thursday with lap records in both sessions that saw the Red Bull pairing finish one-two.
Verstappen’s Monaco resume is less impressive than the Australian’s and he had big accidents on his debut with Toro Rosso in 2015, when he smashed into the back of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, and 2016.
This season has also had plenty of incident but he is not about to modify his style and play it safe on a street circuit that punishes the smallest of errors.
“To make the difference on this track compared to other drivers, they all think the same way, so you have to risk it a bit more between the walls,” Verstappen told reporters when asked whether he would be prepared to take a gamble.
“I’m the same person I have been since I was born. For me, nothing changes. We have a good car so we just try to extract the most out of it and hopefully we come back with a good result.”
The youngster, who gets around town on a scooter when in Monaco to beat the traffic jams, has made a name for himself already as a three times race winner and thrilling overtaker always prepared to take a punt.
He is not a gambler in any other respect, however.
“I don’t like gambling. I think it’s just stupid in general,” he said.
“You go there (to the casino) to lose money...it doesn’t make sense. I would prefer to buy something for (instead of) the money you lose.”
Asked whether he had ever ventured inside the imposing 19th century Monaco landmark that provides a backdrop to cars racing through Casino Square, Verstappen smiled.
“Yep. I won 300 euros ($351.18) and I’m never going to go back again.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Nick Mulvenney