Verstappen helps childhood friend: ‘He doesn’t just point a finger to say what is not going well’

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Verstappen helps childhood friend: 'He doesn't just point a finger to say what is not going well'

Thierry Vermeulen, son of Raymond Vermeulen, is good friends with Max Verstappen and very grateful for the help he receives from the three-time Formula 1 world champion. Vermeulen junior raced in the DTM in 2023, among other things, and is regularly provided with advice by Verstappen.

The Vermeulen and Verstappen families have been friends for a long time and so Max Verstappen and Thierry Vermeulen have known each other since a young age. Verstappen wants to help other drivers and that is why he is the co-founder and driving force behind Racing. Vermeulen also drives under the flag of Racing. ‘He is of course a very good friend. It is very nice that he has helped me so much in my motorsport career, that means a lot to me,” says Vermeulen in conversation with the Swiss Blick.

Verstappen makes time for Vermeulen in the busy schedule

Formula 1 has just completed a triple header, and with a new double header looming, the drivers have a rare weekend off, but Verstappen is spending that weekend by driving a Ferrari 296 GT3 over Mugello, Italy, together with Vermeulen. rage. “It’s the same as any friendship, but I’m just lucky that he is so talented in motorsport, and that he is willing to take the time to help me.”

Vermeulen realizes that the Dutchman already has to travel a lot for his work. ‘If you look at the Formula 1 schedule, it is madness, with marketing activity and races. It is a very full calendar for him, so the fact that he is there for me when I need help means a lot and it also helps me enormously with my performance,” says the 21-year-old son of Verstappen’s manager.

Coach Verstappen

‘It’s quite a long story. Max and I have known each other since a very young age, so I have seen him grow up in the different classes and we have always been good friends,” Vermeulen continues. ‘I know Max always follows everything, he likes that too. He really tries to help me, so he doesn’t just point fingers to say what’s not going well, but he’s always the first to say: try this or that, or try to work on this.’

Verstappen provides financial support through Racing, but also acts as a mentor to Vermeulen. ‘They support me, so they can also tell me when something is not going well. It only helps me when I receive criticism on points where I can still improve. I’ve only been doing this for three years now, so it’s natural that some things need to be better and they point that out and push me to the next level.”

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thierry vermeulen dtm
Thierry Vermeulen in action in the DTM at Zandvoort.

When Vermeulen started racing, Verstappen already had his first Grand Prix victories in the premier class of motorsport. ‘So I started racing not so long ago; my first race was in 2020. I hadn’t karted or anything else like that yet. I raced in my first race with him in Portugal at Portimão in a GT4. That was my first day of testing, just for fun. It was fun to do that with my good friend, who drove in Formula 1. After that, the motorsport addiction became even more extreme.’

Vermeulen especially praises Verstappen’s endless search for perfection. ‘A person is quickly judged in the media, but it is his job in Formula 1 to always get the most out of himself. That’s why he’s so dominant, he points out every little detail, even when he’s first in the race or qualifying. You can always improve things, because the perfect lap or the perfect car hardly exists. I learned a lot from that, and as a friend he is very supportive, and I appreciate that,” said the 21-year-old driver.

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