Max Verstappen is well-known as one of the fastest drivers in the world thanks to his success in Formula 1. Having mastered that discipline, he headed out to try his hand at drifting, with hilarious results.
Verstappen got to fulfill his lifelong ambition of learning to drift in the best possible way. His tutor for the day was professional drifter "Mad Mike" Whiddett, known as much for his raw ability as his epic Mazda drift cars. Whiddett brought out his MADBUL Mazda RX-7 for the day, with 600 horsepower on tap for smoking up the tires. Verstappen is the first person other than Whiddett to drive the car, which helped build the legend of "Mad Mike" that we know today.
"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 to how I normally drive," said Verstappen. Regardless, the Dutchman's skills served him well behind the wheel of the RX-7. "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."
Donuts were first on the table, to help familiarize Verstappen with controlling the Mazda in a slide. Verstappen hilariously stalled the RX-7 first time out , before sloppily messing up his first donut attempt. However, it wasn't long before Verstappen had the car elegantly pirouetting in neat tidy circles.
Figure eights were the next challenge on the ticket. They are a common way to practice drifting, as a way to teach the crucial skill of transitioning from sliding one way to the other. Handling the clutch proved a challenge for Verstappen, but he eventually managed to string together the coordination required to manage it along with the large drift handbrake.
The "Scandi Flick" was the final test on the table for the World Champion, to teach the skill of initiating and holding a high-speed drift. First time out, Verstappen clipped a few cones, getting one jammed in the rear wheel well.
In a short time, though, he'd gotten the hang of it, showing off his control by deftly sliding the butt of the RX-7 past a series of Christian Horner cardboard cutouts. He may not be a D1-grade competitor, but Verstappen was able to pick up the basics without too much trouble.
It's great to see Verstappen in a fish-out-of-water situation, and he shows a strong ability to learn quickly. It's hard to imagine a better day out than getting a drift lesson from one of the best in the world. Verstappen certainly made the most of it, and looked to pick up the new skill fairly quickly. Here's hoping we get to see him out with Noriyaro one day, down at Nikko mastering his reverse entries at speed.
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