BARCELONA, Spain — Max Verstappen does not think Formula One can ever match the sort of drama produced in this week’s epic Champions League semifinal matches.
Liverpool and Tottenham produced stunning comebacks to defeat Barcelona and Ajax, booking both English clubs a place in the final on June 1. Liverpool’s involved scoring four unanswered goals at Anfield on Tuesday night — Tottenham delivered even more drama on Wednesday night, going two goals down in Amsterdam before scoring three to win on away goals, including one six minutes into added time.
Dutch driver Verstappen is not an Ajax supporter but he sympathised with the team, saying he had been following the game through Twitter updates over dinner.
“I’m a PSV fan, but I would have liked Ajax to win,” Verstappen said. “I’m not crying like some of my friends. Some of my friends were very emotional after the game. One didn’t reply for an hour when I said bad luck, and then he came back to me saying he didn’t feel too well. I’m not that devastated, but of course it would have been great for Ajax to be in the final.
When asked whether F1 could ever be as dramatic, he replied: “Well you can’t. It’s basically like being three laps down and the guy suddenly wins the race.
“It’s just a different sport, different things can happen, the emotion as well. It’s like that one game is decisive for the rest of the championship. It’s different. We are doing 21 rounds, so, I don’t know.”
Verstappen also revealed he occasionally chats to Ajax players Frankie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, who he praised for staying grounded despite becoming key parts of the Dutch national team.
“Those guys are super easy going and normal, even with the success they’ve had. You send them a message on Instagram and say good luck, and after the game they’re like thank you very much. It’s super easy going. That’s what I like: good players with a lot of success, and they’re just still the same person. It’s good to see that.2
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton hopes to attend the final. Despite supporting Tottenham’s bitter cross-town rivals Arsenal, he doesn’t sound like a convincing Liverpool fan.
“Honesty, I don’t like either,” he said on Thursday. “[But] I’m an Arsenal supporter so… Maybe Liverpool, maybe Liverpool.
“Tottenham and Arsenal… since I was a kid, has always been a team that I have struggled with. The games were incredible up until now, so I am going to try and get to the final.”
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is using the drama of this week to focus his energy on overcoming his team’s poor start to the season and beating Hamilton and Mercedes to the championship.
“I think as a team and as a driver you always need to be motivated and never give up,” he said. “The Champions League was a good example, and this is the mentality in the team. We are here to win and this is what we want to do, so we are doing everything in our hands to improve and hopefully the results will come.”