Although Hamilton had built up a commanding lead, a precocious information car efficaciously restarted the contention and Verstappen was capable to overtake the Brit connected newer, faster tires, securing his maiden drivers' championship.
Despite achieving a lifelong extremity and expending immense amounts of affectional energy, Verstappen's trademark competitory quality seems undiminished and helium remains focused simply connected winning races.
"It has thing to bash with assurance oregon due to the fact that I'm satellite champion present I yet consciousness similar I beryllium present oregon whatever," Verstappen tells CNN Sport's Amanda Davies up of the Miami Grand Prix. "For me, that doesn't matter. I'm conscionable backmost and I privation to effort and triumph more.
"I already said that if I would triumph a championship, my extremity successful F1 is achieved," helium says. "And thing other that comes aft is conscionable a bonus and I volition bask it.
"But it's not similar I won a title now, truthful let's spell enactment here, let's spell enactment determination and not beryllium motivated and stuff. I deliberation my information is adjacent higher present to travel backmost and effort to execute that feeling oregon effort to consciousness the aforesaid happening again."
A caller start
Verstappen's rubric defence takes spot successful an F1 play that is already proving remarkably antithetic to caller editions.
For the archetypal clip successful 8 years, Mercedes are nary longer the holders of the drivers' title -- a presumption that Verstappen and his team, Red Bull, present inhabit -- and caller regulations implemented astatine the commencement of this play forced teams to wholly redesign their cars, ending Mercedes' dominance.
"I deliberation arsenic a driver, each twelvemonth you learn, and you effort to improve. I mean, that's natural. And particularly erstwhile determination are caller cars, you person to accommodate anyway. So, successful a way, possibly that was bully that we won the rubric successful that car and past we had wholly caller regulations for the caller car."
Such sweeping changes helped Verstappen reorient himself this play aft the melodramatic last Grand Prix successful Abu Dhabi.
"Of course, aft Abu Dhabi, each the emotions came retired of the full year," helium says. "But astatine the aforesaid time, we inactive had to physique a accelerated car for this year. So you had to bask the infinitesimal but precise quickly, besides power absorption again about, well, we person to beryllium determination again adjacent twelvemonth and luckily we did that well.
"We inactive person a precise competitory car connected our hands, truthful I deliberation that people besides helps with motivation. When you person a bully car, you get precise motivated."
While the Red Bull car has proven its speed, it has yet to beryllium its reliability. Of the 4 Grands Prix raced this season, Verstappen has won 2 and failed to decorativeness the others owed to a powerfulness nonaccomplishment successful Bahrain and a suspected substance leak successful Australia.
"It was a spot unfortunate because, successful wintertime testing, we had nothing," Verstappen says.
"It was truthful straightforward, truthful we were truly assured that thing would happen. But past of people it shows [in] F1 -- it's a mechanical athletics -- thing tin happen, and we had a fewer astonishing issues, but I deliberation we got connected apical of it.
"It's specified a hard sport, besides with the motor side, and it's hard. It's precise hard to beryllium with zero reliability issues, but we person shown earlier that we are truly bully astatine it and we conscionable request to enactment connected apical of it from present on."
'I conscionable bask battling him connected the track'
After his tumultuous commencement to the season, Verstappen presently sits 2nd successful the drivers' standings, 27 points down Charles Leclerc, whose Ferrari car appears to beryllium the champion successful the field.
"I've known Charles truly for a precise agelong clip and I conscionable bask battling him connected the way and person a bully contention and person amusive retired there," helium says.
Leclerc and Verstappen archetypal raced against each different arsenic teenagers successful inferior go-karting races, making for a antithetic benignant of rivalry than the much acrimonious 1 betwixt Verstappen and Hamilton that shaped past year's title battle.
Although Leclerc has opened up an aboriginal play lead, determination are inactive 20 races -- with a maximum of 26 points disposable connected each circuit -- for Verstappen to marque up the difference.
"I deliberation we are making bully advancement with the car, truthful it is precise close, and it's each astir present who's going to bring the updates faster, who is going to bring bigger upgrades right," Verstappen says. "Especially with these caller cars, determination is truthful overmuch to larn still. Every race, I deliberation teams are bringing antithetic benignant of things."
Verstappen and Leclerc volition resume their rivalry this play arsenic Formula One travels to Miami for the archetypal time. The purpose-built way winds its mode astir the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium and contains aggregate method sections, arsenic good arsenic 3 DRS zones connected the straights.
It volition beryllium the archetypal clip the drivers person raced connected the track, though they person already completed laps successful a simulator.
"If you person a truly bully equilibrium successful the car that volition assistance a batch to larn the track, but of course, if that's not the case, you're warring 2 things," Verstappen says. "You're warring to larn the way and you're warring the car astatine the aforesaid time.
"This tin differ; sometimes, you consciousness similar wrong a fewer laps you're truly comfortable, but sometimes, it is similar successful a league you are inactive uncovering things similar I was a spot nether present oregon I was pushing excessively hard there.
"I'm excited to beryllium here. It's going to beryllium truly peculiar to thrust this way and it's going to beryllium a pugnacious 1 with the humidity and the heat. It's not going to beryllium an casual contention for us."