Max Verstappen, the Formula 1 triple world champion, has extended his influence into the world of GT and DTM racing by sponsoring his friend Thierry Vermeulen, the son of his manager Raymond, through his marketing company Verstappen.com. Verstappen recently joined Vermeulen at private tests in Portugal and Mugello with Emil Frey Racing, a Swiss team named after former Sauber sponsor Emil Frey, offering an up-close look at his working methods.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, the head of Emil Frey Racing, shared his unique experience with Max Verstappen during these test sessions. Speaking to Blick newspaper, Frey-Hilti recounted, “It was extremely fascinating. Max is totally uncomplicated – a down-to-earth, nice guy without any airs and graces.” He was impressed by Verstappen’s quick adaptation to the Ferrari 296 GT3, driven by Vermeulen with the number 69, and meticulous working style: “After just one or two laps he’s up to speed. He works extremely meticulously.”
While Verstappen’s test lap times remain confidential, Frey-Hilti noted his valuable contributions: “Max followed a clear test plan and makes very helpful statements to our engineers. It specifically helps us become faster, also because he adapts very well to what Thierry needs.” Frey-Hilti also highlighted Verstappen’s coaching role with Vermeulen, revealing, “Thierry is Max’s friend, but he still wants to see performance. As a coach, he gives him strict and clear instructions.”
Frey-Hilti also shared the track with Verstappen, admitting he wasn’t quite as quick as the F1 star. This experience led to a friendship between the two, with Frey-Hilti expressing gratitude for Verstappen choosing his team for Vermeulen: “There are countless GT3 teams. It was a great honor that he asked us.”