Friday, July 19, 2024

How Max Verstappen learned a drifting craft

In the world of motorsports, Formula One stands as the epitome of precision and breakneck speed. On the other hand, drifting is like an asphalt pirouette, where drivers deliberately make their cars slide on the track. At Milton Keynes, these two worlds spectacularly converged as Max Verstappen, the two-time Formula One World Champion, joined forces with drifting Master ‘Mad’ Mike Whiddett for an unforgettable track challenge, where Verstappen learned to drift.

Click here to subscribe to our print edition!

Amidst his superb 2023 season eight-race winning streak, Oracle Red Bull Racing star Max Verstappen took on a lifelong ambition to learn to drift cars with the help of none other than professional drift driver ‘Mad’ Mike Whiddett around the Milton Keynes track in Buckinghamshire.

Whiddett is no stranger to challenges. He has successfully drifted around difficult locations like the UK’s complex ‘Magic Roundabout’ in Swindon, a roundabout known for its bewildering design. He has also taken his BADBUL drift car on a thrilling high-speed run on South Africa’s scenic Franschhoek Pass at 248kph. With such experiences under his belt, Whiddett had the perfect expertise to mentor Verstappen in this new venture.

Dutchman Verstappen, who has reeled off ten victories already this season and sits at the top of the drivers’ standings, battled rare nerves as he grappled with the 600HP MADBUL drift car, a stark contrast to his usual F1 machine.

The 25-year-old faced challenges previously unknown to him on a racetrack. With ‘Mad Mike’ guiding, Verstappen was thrust into high-speed doughnuts, figure-of-8 manoeuvres, and the rapid direction-change known as the Scandi-flick and finishing with a surprise appearance from a familiar face to keep him on his toes at the ‘Horner Corner’ trick.

New Zealand-born Whiddett is renowned for repurposing high-performance speed machines into drift marvels. He notably transformed a Lamborghini Huracan, a car built for precision and speed, into a drifting spectacle for the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed. In a similar vein, now he’s channelling that expertise, not to convert the Formula One car, but to mould their drivers — turning an F1 Champion into a drift maestro.

READ MORE: Sergio “Checo” Perez shuts down the streets of Madrid

While Verstappen’s usual F1 cars are aerodynamic marvels designed for speed and grip, the MADBUL, an FD3S Mazda RX-7 with 600HP, is built to slide gracefully. It’s a machine that demands mastery to control its sideways dance across the circuit.

Verstappen said: “Learning to drift was very crazy; I didn’t know what to expect. I think it was the most nervous I’ve been in the past two years because it’s not natural how I normally drive. It felt like I was 16 again and jumping into an F1 car for the first time! As soon as the engine started and I began drifting with the wheels spinning, I got into my natural zone where I was finding the limits of the car, as I do in F1 – I felt that same adrenaline rush, and my instinct took over.”

Whiddett from Auckland, 42, said: “We really pushed the limits with Max, and I hope he learnt some awesome tricks he could take to the F1 track – drifting is as raw as it gets! I’d love to try out these challenges in an F1 car and see what’s possible in Max’s seat next time.”

The post How Max Verstappen learned a drifting craft appeared first on Paddock Magazine.