SINGAPORE - Red Bull's Formula One driver Max Verstappen has signalled his intent to stand on the podium at the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix and erase the memory of last year, when a dream start ended quickly in a spectacular crash.
Speaking at an event on Wednesday (Sept 12) organised by the team's fuel supplier, Esso, the Dutchman stated that his target for this weekend's night race is a top three finish.
"I want to be on the podium this year. At the starting grid (last year), all was good. Then after 100m, the first, second and fourth cars (Sebastian Vettel, himself and Kimi Raikkonen respectively) got taken out. That was my race done and it was unfortunate," said the 20-year-old, who was participating in a race between a drone and remote-controlled car at Scape in Orchard Road.
Then, Verstappen had qualified second on the grid but seconds into the race, he was sandwiched by the two Ferraris and all three collided. The crash also took out McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
Part of his confidence for the Singapore race stems from his preparation. As F1 took a two-week break following the Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen was hard at work conditioning himself for Singapore's heat and humidity.
"The sauna helps in getting me used to the amount of sweating that will happen here," he said.
"It's not enjoyable to sit in 50-degree heat in the cockpit. Luckily, Monaco (his residence) is quite humid. I have also done cycling and running to be fit and ready
"The preparation had gone well, we're ready on the simulator. It all looks very promising, we are motivated and we know we can do a good job here."
The twisty 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit is one of the most gruelling on the F1 calendar and Verstappen has tailored his training to combat the tropical heat, which could see drivers lose as much as 3kg.
And while Verstsappen is set to lose team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who will join Renault next season, he is happy that the Australian's replacement, Pierre Gasly from Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso, is a familiar face.
He said: "Next year is going to be exciting as I have a new team-mate and the team has a new engine partner (Honda). I know him (Gasly) from our karting days. He is a very nice guy and he is very fast.
"He will fit into the team very well and I hope we can have a lot of fun together."