Max Verstappen is currently navigating uncharted waters — not that you would be able to tell.
For the first time in his short, but action-packed Formula One career, the Dutch sensation is leading the drivers’ championship.
Despite the chance of achieving his childhood dream of winning a world title being a real possibility this season, Verstappen is taking everything in his stride.
There is a certain pressure that comes with being the championship leader, in particular when you have seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton breathing down your neck, but it’s not a pressure that Verstappen seems to be feeling.
“It doesn’t make any difference to be honest,” the Red Bull driver matter-of-factly tells CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies. “We always wanted to be here and now that we have a very competitive package, we are just very happy that it’s happening and now we just have to keep it up.
“I mean, it’s still a very long season, we’re not even halfway. Of course the gap at the moment looks nice, probably on paper, but also it’s very easily gone. So we just have to make sure that we don’t make mistakes and stay on top of it.
“I never really look at these things. At the end of the day, they don’t really make a big difference in terms of how I feel about it.”
READ: Max Verstappen cruises to third successive GP victory at Austrian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen celebrates his win at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Still only 23 years of age, it’s a testament to Verstappen’s mental strength that he has been able to win each of the last three races after his mishap at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which saw him spin out down the main straight due to tire failure just five laps from the end.
It was a quite brilliant drive at the Monaco Grand Prix back in May that saw Verstappen take the lead in the drivers’ championship for the first time and his performances have only improved since, allowing him to open up a 32-point gap over Hamilton.
But as Azerbaijan has no doubt taught him, all that hard work could come undone in an instant.
“I’m not enjoying it at the moment to be honest, not more than what I would be doing the last few years,” Verstappen says. “Because I know that it doesn’t say anything at the moment.
“I want to be there at the last race and finish it off in that way, because of course you can be happy right now, but then if you lose out at the end of the year, then there’s nothing to be happy about.
“So that’s why I’m quite neutral in everything and I’m just very focused on what I have to do.”
Nobody has ever doubted Verstappen’s championship-winning credentials as a driver, so far in his six-year career the common consensus has been that it’s the Red Bull car that has let him down.
This season, however, that looks to have changed.