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Neil Verhagen

"Preseason testing has been going well so I look to carry that momentum forward to the start of the season"

Neil Verhagen

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Driver bio

First Race Karts: 2008

First Race Cars: November 2014 - Skip Barber Winter Series

Hobbies: Wake-boarding, Basketball

Favourite circuit cars: Spa

Favourite meal: Steak

Favourite drink: Red Bull or sweet tea

Favourite music: House and Rap

Favourite subject while at school and/or university: Math

Favourite thing to do when not racing: being outside, other sports, sim training

Motorsport heros: Danny Sullivan, Michael Schumacher, Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Though not from a motorsports background Neil's start in racing was not unusual. "I tried a kid kart when I was seven on a course set up in a parking lot with cones and also at an indoor karting track."

"I really liked indoor karting and we started going there a couple of times a week for practice and league racing on the weekends. The instructor told my parents that they should really get me to an outdoor track in my own kart since it was much more competitive."

"We did that and were there almost every day to practice after school even though the track was over an hour away. We did it as a family with my dad working on my kart and my mom working on my brother Alex's kart. Within three months we started going to all the big national races figuring things out as we went along."

"We drove all over the US to get to kart races and we often stayed in our trailer at the events together. Both my grandparents also provide a lot of support and come to watch us at a lot of events."

"When we went to watch our first Indycar race the first time it ran in Baltimore, my brother and I got to talk to Will Power, that's when I decided that professional open wheel racing is what I wanted to do."

SCCA Runoffs 2016 - Photo credit: Mark Weber

Late in 2014 Neil had his first races in an open wheel formula car, contesting the 2014-15 Skip Barber Winter Series and it was impressive from the start. "My first formula car race ever in Skip Barber at Road Atlanta was my most memorable. In my qualifying session, I made a small mistake to go four wheels off track which meant I had to start the race from last place."

2017 was Neil's debut season in the Red Bull Junior Team. "I can't help but have mixed feelings about my performance in my first European racing season. The Formula Renault Eurocup has proven to be extremely competitive and has really pushed me to develop my driving. I came in last season as the youngest driver with arguably the least amount of experience. So I knew it would be an enormous challenge coming from my previous season driving a Formula Ford in the USA."

Talking technology early in the 2017 season

"Everything was new to me: living in Europe, driving a car with downforce, the circuits, weather conditions, and definitely the level of competition. My strategy was to push the limits as much as possible and not be afraid to make mistakes as I felt that that would allow me to learn the quickest. That produced some OK results as well as some very poor results during the season."

On the podium in Monza - hallowed ground 2017

"The first event at Monza is a perfect example. While I was able to finish top rookie in 4th place on Sunday after starting 11th, on Saturday I started in the back of the field, and was crashed out. The following event at Silverstone was a total failure in qualifying as I was not able to set a single fast lap in both qualifying sessions."

Too much time in the pits during the Silverstone weekend

"My first street course race at Pau was a learning experience as I brushed the wall early in practice in wet conditions, taking me out of the session. It was hard standing behind the fence seeing my competition getting a lot more seat time which I knew I needed. To make things worse, for the race on Saturday there was an electrical issue which did not allow me to start the race, which meant even more of a deficit in seat time. So considering that, I was not too upset to finish 9th on Sunday."

Pau - First street circuit

"Monaco was definitely my favourite event. I have been watching F1 for a long time but never had the opportunity to attend a grand prix before that weekend. To have my first event be the Monaco Grand Prix and also be racing at that same event was over the top."

Out and about in Monaco

"The level of excitement and energy surrounding the weekend is amazing and I enjoyed taking it all in. In both qualifying sessions I had good pace and was on laps which would have started me top 5, but I overdrove the last sector and I ended up starting and finishing 12th both days. But I was encouraged with my pace and I very much look forward to coming back here this year."

Classic Monaco

"The next event after the summer break in Hungary I picked up the best result of my season. I was pretty happy to qualify 9th in wet conditions considering I had very limited experience in those conditions."

The Hungaroring in the wet - 2017

"In the race I was thrilled to be able to overtake at a track known for being difficult to overtake and come away with a 3rd place finish. Like Monza however, the other two races didn't go as well as I exceeded track limits in qualifying taking away my fast laps which would have started me towards the front."

On the podium in Hungary

"Nurburgring was a very frustrating weekend as me and my teammates were all very far off the pace. I finished 18th and 25th in the races. It felt like nothing was working no matter how much we tried to improve. I will be coming back this season with something to prove there, that's for sure."

A difficult weekend in the Eifel mountains

"When I looked at the calendar before the season, I picked the Red Bull Ring as a place where I wanted to really shine in front of Red Bull's home crowd. Unfortunately this turned out to be a total disaster. I overdrove qualifying and got my fast laps deleted by exceeding track limits, and I finished 18th and 25th a lap down after having to change my front wing."

Tough at the Red Bull Ring

"I was totally devastated with those results. While I knew I didn't have a car to win it, I definitely should have finished in the top 10 there. I clearly had not yet learned my lesson on exceeding track limits from Hungary."

Not looking happy in Austria

"At Paul Ricard I think the pace started getting a bit better. We had done a test day at Spa and I think that really helped sort out some car balance issues. I had decent pace and was able to finish 7th on Saturday. On Sunday, I moved up around 4 spots early in the race. I pushed my tires too hard trying to continue moving up the order, causing me to have to limp to the finish line for the final couple of laps losing two spots. Paul Ricard is known for tire degradation so I learned a lot from that experience."

Getting on the pace in Paul Ricard

"Out of all the circuits, Spa is my favourite. It takes the right balance of having balls and finesse to race at this circuit. My pace here was good through practice, qualifying and the races. I ended up finishing 8th, 8th and 5th which highlights my most consistent weekend. I can't wait to drive something faster here to make this circuit come even more alive."

Consistent speed at Spa

"Barcelona started out very well. I was quick in practice, Saturday qualifying and the Saturday race, finishing 7th. For the 2nd qualifying session which setup starting positions for the 2nd and 3rd race, I set 4 laps which I knew I nailed, but somehow they were a second off the pace of my teammate."

Speed in Spain 2017

"Something was definitely off with the car which was frustrating as that would decide the start for my last 2 races of the season. In the 2nd and 3rd race starting towards the back, while I had good pace and making passes, I ended up having contact in the 2nd race and having to go offtrack in the 3rd race to avoid a spin in front of me losing a lot of positions."

Pushing on in Catalunya

"While finishing 11th in the series is clearly not good enough, I feel I learned a tremendous amount last season and definitely improved significantly towards the end of the season. I very much look forward to putting it all together this season to get race wins and put myself in a position to win the championship at the end of the season . I am thrilled to have the opportunity for a 2nd season in the Formula Renault Eurocup with the Tech1 team."

Happy to be looking forward to another season

"The team has trained a lot of other Red Bull Juniors (Brendon Hartley, Pierre Gasly, ) so I'm committed to making the most of it and follow in their footsteps. Preseason testing has been going well as we topped the results on each of the 3 official test days in Barcelona and Paul Ricard, so I look to carry that momentum forward to the start of the season."