Max Verstappen is clearly one of the most volatile and most talked-about personalities in the current Formula One grid. Love him or hate him, his presence makes every race weekend more exciting. After receiving a lot of hate for his aggressive driving style, the Red Bull star speaks out and says that he isn't racing to win Mr. Congeniality.
"Let's say it like this: after my career, if I would have won five championships but I'm maybe not the most liked person, for me that doesn't matter, because at the end of the day it's all about winning," said Verstappen, in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport.
The Dutch driver was quick to say that he didn't want to sound arrogant. All he wanted to say was that he has a goal and he was not going to worry about being nice while he tries to achieve that goal. Controversially, he also admitted that he didn't believe in clean racing at all. "If I have to touch, I'll touch. It's not like it always needs to be in the cleanest way."
That statement will not come across well to many racing officials, participants and spectators. Of course, safety is the ultimate priority. However, pushing to the very limit of what's allowed is what makes Verstappen an exciting character to watch on the track.
His driving style has given him great results in the past but the risks he takes also sent him out of the race a good number of times. Either way, his team believes in him and he is still considered to be one of Formula One's brightest stars. "I would do anything - or everything - to win. If it's a little bit - not dirty, but in a hard way - I will do it. I am not here to be the most liked person," he added.
Despite his hard stance on aggressive racing, he wasn't too happy to be on the receiving end of such behaviour at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc left very little racing room in the opening lap and ended up crashing into Verstappen after a sudden understeer.
"I like hard racing, but I don't think this was hard racing," said Verstappen. "This was just irresponsible driving into Turn 2.
With Leclerc quickly emerging as a force to be reckoned with, it remains to be seen if these two will eventually form one of F1's great rivalries in the future.