After closing another solid season with a Sprint Race podium in Yas Marina, we caught up with Trident’s Richard Verschoor to find out who behind the scenes helped him grow into the driver he is today.
Combining both on and off-track support, the Dutchman counted on several figures along the way – in particular, being a part of his former team’s racing family for the first six formative years of his career.
“I grew up with him and my mom, but more with my father. I was always going to the karting track with him, and he bought my first go-kart, so that was a very big influence on my life because he also could have bought me new football shoes or whatever. He was quite hard on me, not too hard, but in a good way. Now that I look back at it, I’m really happy with how he raised me because it really helps me nowadays in my life talking mostly to adults and it’s quite a different way of talking sometimes than it is to people of your own age.
“He tried to teach me how to drive the go-kart, but he never had any experience himself with racing. Of course, when you’re watching Formula 1 you know more or less what’s going on, but he didn’t really know anything. Luckily, at some point when I’d just lost a Championship, he hired someone to work with me to explain all the things I needed to know – he knew the right moment to take it out of his hands.
“One of the best pieces of advice he gave to me is that you always have to be nice to everyone, even if they do something to you which is not nice, it doesn’t matter. It can be anyone, wherever you see someone, always try to be nice. Of course, I have my moments where I wasn’t, but on the whole, I did this many times and even though I didn’t know someone when I was nice, they always spread the word. I really think it did help me and I always enjoy being nice to people.”
HIS FORMER KARTING COACH
“He’s the guy my father hired, and he basically taught me everything from how to be quick in a go-kart and how to sometimes be aggressive because that’s what you need. When the helmet goes on, you have to be like that. Everybody is going for the same goal, and you can be friends when the helmet is off, but as soon as the helmet goes on, you have to only focus on yourself. Also, he taught me how to work on the kart and everything you need, without him I would not be where I am today.
“He was extremely strict, but he also knew me very well. We were like brothers, I think I spent more time with him than with anyone in those three/four years. In total, we worked together for six years and more than 75% of the time we were seeing each other because I was karting every week.
“His influence helped me a lot, but I to be honest, from the moment I moved to car racing this is something that I missed. Especially when I look back at this year working together with my Team Manager Giacomo (Ricci), it taught me so much and I really felt like I made big, big step forward driving-wise and mindset-wise. I think it’s something I have missed in the last five years, and I think that if I had some more support, I could have had much better results. It’s a learning process and I’m happy that I got to know that there’s so much more inside of me.
“It’s maybe a bit weird to say because I’m not with the team anymore, but it has to be MP – the team, the owner, the manager and all the people that work there. They gave me so many opportunities when I didn’t always have the budget to go ahead. We had some tough times together, but also some amazingly good times. I look back on it, I’d been with them for six years and my life would have looked different if it wasn’t for MP. Without their support I would not have been able to go from F4 to F2.
“I knew everybody there because I’d been there for such a long time. Also, one thing I noticed there was that many people that worked there stayed for a long time, and I think that’s what makes them strong as well, you could see that this year with Felipe (Drugovich). Sometimes people change, but within the team they have a strong group of people.
“My proudest moment I think has to be the Macau victory, it’s such a big race. Also, my first win in F2 at Silverstone because that one was also very special.”