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Max Verstappen




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Max Verstappen


Hasselt, Belgium
Bree, Belgium

Official website:


Few teenagers are more steeped in motorsport. His father, Jos, a veteran of 107 Grands Prix, drove for Benetton, Simtek, Footwork, Tyrrell, Stewart, Arrows and Minardi, as well as being at the centre of one of the most iconic images in the history of the sport. In fact, his son is no less iconic, to the point where every single one of these licensed betting sites in the Netherlands picked him as their favourite to dominate the first position for all races in 2023.

"When I was three years old he took me to a kart race and that’s when I knew I wanted to race also," admits Max." My father wanted to wait till my sixth birthday, but I was so persistent that I got in a kart for the first time at four."

His speed genes don't only come from his father's side of the family however, his mother Sophie proved a fast driver too, beating several F1 drivers in karting events.

By 2003 Max was karting regularly in private training once or twice a week and at several other circuits with "Mini" karts. The serious racing only started in 2005, when he completed a full Mini karting season and won the Belgium Championship Mini (VAS), dominating with 21 races and 21 wins.

Having been through it all himself it is father Jos who has so much experience to pass on. "My father has always been closely involved in my career, from the very start. As a coach, mentor, mechanic, manager and taxi-driver, since I’m not old enough to have a driver’s license yet," adds Max.

When Max was conceived Jos was in the midst of his F1 career and ten days after his son was born he jetted off to Suzuka to contest the Japanese Grand Prix for Tyrrell.

Max has already matched a very important mark set by his father, winning the Zandvoort Masters F3 race, which Jos achieved that in 1993 and Max mirrored in 2014, setting off from pole just as his dad did.

Following a successful career in Karts, culminating in winning the KZ1 World Championship last year, Max stepped up to open wheelers in 2014 in the inaugural Florida Winter Series racing the 1.4 litre turbocharged FTP engined Tatuus FA10B. He had been preparing for the move in 2013 with several tests in Formula Renault 2.0 cars with different teams on various circuits and one test in an ATS Formel 3 Cup car.

2014 started with a great run in Florida, at Sebring he took the fastest lap on his way to fourth in his first race and in the 12 race series scored 2 wins and 3 other podiums. That success was quickly eclipsed when he joined the Van Amersfoort Racing team for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

He started out with simple aims: "To try to make as few mistakes as possible and win as many races as I can. Trying to be consistent and finish as high as possible in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship."

He did not disappoint himself or anyone else. Picking up his first win in just the sixth race of the highly competitive series at the Hockenheimring he quickly established himself as one of the stars of the show when he won races 13 to 18, an incredible run of six victories, totally dominating the events at Spa and the Norisring.

Unsurprisingly he counts the Belgian outing as his best race so far. "Spa-Francorchamps, race 3 of round 5, at Les Combes I overtook two competitors on the same move, on the outside after a slipstream."

It is his favourite circuit. "I like Spa-Francorchamps because it is a high speed circuit with a lot fast corners, which are always my favourite. It is also a challenging and very fluent track and therefore great to drive."

Finishing the season third overall, by late August, with only the Imola and Hockenheim rounds remaining, Max had already been confirmed as part of Toro Rosso's F1 line-up for 2015, replacing Daniil Kvyat who was stepping up to replace Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull.

The news sent shockwaves through the sport, as Max would become the youngest ever driver to start a Grand Prix when he lined up on the grid in Melbourne. Indeed, among the first to react was the FIA which not only introduced a new minimum age for drivers (18) but tough new rules in terms of the requisite superlicence.

The youngster took the track for FP1 at Suzuka, Austin and Interlagos, and it was soon clear that his feedback, much like his driving, belied his tender years.

Though he suffered disappointment in the Macau Grand Prix he took victory on home soil in the Masters of Formula 3, his father having won the event in 1993.

Max clearly had talent, a lot of talent. However, there was that nagging feeling that at 17 he just might be too young for such a baptism of fire, after all, the team is not known for its patience. To add to the pressure, Max was to be partnered by Carlos Sainz Jr, which meant that in 2015 the Faenza team would be fielding two rookies with an average age of just under nineteen.

It was with delicious irony, that barely a year after the FIA - shocked by Max' tender years - had introduced the minimum age (18) and tightened the superlicence rules, that the youngster found himself on stage at the organisation's annual awards ceremony picking up the Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year and Action of the Year awards. Now that, Ms Morissette, is ironic.

Rather than list his many extraordinary drives and moves - enough to not only win him the aforementioned FIA awards but also numerous accolades at the Pitpass Annual Awards - it would be simpler to look at the negatives, of which there were precious few.

First there was the overambitious move on Grosjean at Monaco, resulting in his elimination and a grid penalty for Canada. Then there was the nightmare weekend in Abu Dhabi, the youngster clearly saving the worst for last.

His maturity, his bravery, his total refusal to be intimidated, not to mention feedback skills and ability in all conditions, signalled something very special, not for the first time, Red Bull/Toro Rosso had a superstar on its hands.

The move to Ferrari power - albeit a 2015 unit - for 2016 promised more reliability and improved pace which hopefully meant we would witness further improvement from the youngster. Furthermore, with dad Jos forever in the background, Max has his feet planted squarely on the ground, vital not only in terms of keeping the youngster on the straight and narrow but also advising him on what's best in terms of his career.

Following that electric debut in 2015 it was obvious that soon a number of the big teams would be beating a path to Max' door, but as we warned at the time, the youngster needed at least one, maybe two, more years before stepping up, after all, we suggested, how many other potential superstars had come a cropper after just one or two seasons?

How wrong we were.

Looking back, many believe that Max' season began in Spain, when he was promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso. It didn't, his season began in Melbourne when he put the Ferrari-powered car fifth on the grid, ahead of the two Bulls and just behind the Mercedes and works Ferraris, using a 2015 engine.

Unfortunately, his team messed things up and later spun in his efforts to pass teammate Carlos Sainz, ultimately finishing a distant tenth. However, he followed up with points finishes in Bahrain and China.

Winning on his Red Bull debut in Spain was not only historic, it was the stuff of folklore, the sort of anecdote one will recount to the grandchildren in years to come.

Yes, Max benefitted from the Mercedes duo taking one another out and also from his team's decision to put Daniel Ricciardo on an ultimately wrong strategy, but at the end of the day it was ultimately the teenager who soaked up the pressure, particularly from a fired-up Kimi Raikkonen.

Indeed, much like Daniil Kvyat had their close encounters at the beginning of the season, Max and Kimi continued to scrap throughout the year, the Iceman finally losing his cool on more than one occasion.

Be it the impetuousness of youth or the blind daring of the impervious and inexperienced, Max really didn't give a 'Four X', nothing and nobody was sacred.

Reminiscent of the "don't you know who I am?" cry of z-list 'celebrities', Max' mantra was seemingly, "I don't care who you are, you're not getting by" or "I don't care who you are, I'm passing you". Nothing and nobody was sacred.

Indeed, Max' approach can best be summed up by Nico Rosberg when told he had to pass the Dutch teenager if he was to claim the title.

Having been involved in a no-holds barred battle with the youngster earlier in the race, in the closing stages Rosberg was told it was now "critical" to get by the Red Bull driver again.

"I heard Tony (his engineer) say it was critical to pass Verstappen for the championship, I thought 'Holy moly!'" he admitted. "That's not a nice thing to hear, that was bad, a horrible feeling."

Despite a slight wobble when he made his initial attack, the Mercedes driver subsequently made it stick. "It was not good but it worked out," he said. "The feelings I had when I realised I had passed him, I have never had that in a race car before."

Indeed, such was the youngster's approach, particularly to defending his position, the FIA had to clarify the rules... for the more experienced, older drivers.

Throughout the season the youngster continued to tick the boxes, and while there were mistakes including some poor starts and a weakness - certainly compared to his teammate - in qualifying, for the most part he continued not only to impress but to grab the headlines.

Though it is far too early, and unfair, to start making comparisons, his bravura performance in Brazil echoed the brilliance of Senna and Schumacher, yes, he was simply that good.

There remain a number of rough edges, areas he must work on, but let's not forget we're talking about a 19-year-old.

Those who thought 2015 might be a flash in the pan were proved wrong, indeed for the second successive year the Red Bull driver embarrassed the FIA - which had changed the superlicence qualification parameters after he signed to Toro Rosso – into eating humble pie as he collected further awards at the Annual prize giving.

Looking ahead to 2017, we said that as his confidence grows it would be interesting to see how Red Bull kept Max in line, and how the relationship with Ricciardo fared.

Throughout 2016 the pair appeared to get on well, but bearing in mind how the relationship between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel spiralled out of control, one could not help but feel that before much longer something was going to have to give... the team seemingly not big enough for the both of them.

As it happens, unless they are very good actors, despite the shortcomings of the package they were given and the intensity of being in the media spotlight, the pair appeared to get on famously.

All things considered, Max came out on top, even if this isn't reflected in the final standings.

While Daniel enjoyed the stronger start to the season, putting together a run of five podium finishes which included a fortuitous win in Baku, as F1 headed into the summer break Max had seen the chequered flag on just 4 occasions.

The over enthusiasm of rivals and poor reliability meant the Dutch youngster had a dreadful start to the season. However, improved reliability from Renault saw Max put together a string of strong performances including two well-deserved wins.

Finishing fifth in the standings, despite suffering 7 DNFs, one could only wonder what might have been had Max (and Daniel) had a package as bulletproof as that which Lewis Hamilton was enjoying.

As we know, not all of Max's DNFs were due to unreliability, but those occasions where he crashed out were the result of others, the youngster blameless on all counts.

In a year in which his team insisted on poo-pooing fate, insisting that designating its chassis the RB13 was of no consequence, on a number of occasions the youngster suffered appalling luck. However, when fate smiled on him and allowed him to deliver he responded, not least China which was arguably one of his best drives of the year. Hard to believe therefore that it was not until Malaysia - 13 (got that?) races later - that he visited the podium again.

And talking of podiums, not for the first (or last) time the youngster found himself at the centre of controversy when he passed Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix to take third. As the youngster prepared to head out on to the podium following an epic drive he was hit with a penalty for exceeding the track limits which handed the place back to the Ferrari driver.

Max remains one of the hottest talents in F1, a driver that many tip for greatness. In Malaysia we were given a glimpse of what might be when the youngster went head to head with Hamilton and left the Mercedes driver for dead.

Many, not least his teammate, were surprised to see Max agree a new three-year deal with Red Bull, not so much because most other teams would welcome him with open arms but because it was still unclear what the team's engine plans were for 2019 and beyond.

That said, the new deal very much confirmed that Max is the team's new Vettel, the man on whom all the attention will be lavished over the coming years.

Going into the new season, in Max and Ricciardo Red Bull still had the strongest and most exciting line-up on the grid, and should Renault deliver in terms of pace and reliability we might not only see a great scrap between the Austrian team and its Italian and German rivals but an equally good scrap between the Dutch youngster and his Australian teammate.

As it was however, for both Red Bull drivers it was a season of two halves, though admittedly Max's poor 'half' was a lot more brief than his hapless teammate's. Furthermore, many of the youngster's 'issues' were self-inflicted.

Just a couple of races into the season Max found himself having to defend himself from the media following a number of incidents involving the likes of Magnussen, Hamilton and Vettel. However, as is often the case on track, the youngster came out fighting asking why journalists refused to call out his rivals on their mistakes.

In the wake of the incident at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, on witnessing a replay before heading out on to the podium, Hamilton referred to Max as a "dickhead". Shortly after, following a clash with Vettel in China, none other than Jos Verstappen described his son's move on the German as "poor judgement".

In Azerbaijan Max did the unthinkable, colliding with his teammate and thereby eliminating both drivers - this following a costly unnecessary crash during practice.

In Monaco, having been involved in some sort of incident at every previous race, Max crashed in final practice and as a result had to start the race from the back of the grid. Meanwhile, his teammate started from pole.

However, Monaco was the turning point, for while Ricciardo took a hugely popular victory it was to be the last time he appeared on the podium wearing the Red Bull overalls. On the other hand, mindful of the fact that Helmut Marko was now on his case, warning that Max "had to be more careful", the youngster turned his season around completely.

In Canada he began a sequence of three races in which he made it to the podium, culminating in his win in Austria at Red Bull's home track.

Further podiums in Belgium and Singapore were followed by a run of five further podium finishes from Suzuka, as Max leap-frogged Bottas to take fourth in the standing, just two points behind Raikkonen.

To put these performances in perspective, it should be noted that many of them were on tracks where the Renault's power deficiency left Red Bull at a clear disadvantage, though somebody clearly forgot to tell Max. Starting from the rear of the grid in Austin, he ended the day second, while a week later he took victory Mexico for the second successive season.

There could and should have been another win in Brazil, but for reasons best known to himself he tangled with Esteban Ocon while leading the race as the Frenchman attempted to un-lap himself.

There is no doubt that Max is one of the most exciting drivers out there, a no-nonsense, elbows-out racer who dearly loves to get stuck in. However, like some sections of the media, he appears to have a sense of entitlement that decrees nobody is allowed to get in his way, that he owns the track.

With Ricciardo heading to Renault, Max is joined by Pierre Gasly in 2019. Like the Dutchman, the French racer is fast, full of his own importance and with a sizeable chip on his shoulder. If nothing else, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko will have their work cut out trying to keep the two drivers from one another's throats... all the more reason why the amiable Ricciardo will be sorely missed.

As we saw post-Monaco, Max is able to learn from his mistakes, however, as we saw in Brazil, he remains prone to listening to his right foot and heart rather than his head.

Whether we would see him step up a notch in 2019 very much depended on how competitive the Red Bull-Honda package proved to be, while learning from said process would either improve the Dutchman as a driver or cause further meltdowns. Either way, it was very much up to him.

Formula One lost a couple of legends in 2019. There was three-time world champion Niki Lauda, and then there was Charlie Whiting. One of Whiting's last acts before his untimely death was to oversee Max's public service commitment following the attack on Ocon in Brazil.

The 'punishment' included attending the FIA International Stewards Programme and observing the stewards at a Formula E race. Other than a minor blemish in Mexico - of which more later - Max appeared to learn from the experience... marking up another success story for the FIA's long-time race director.

On the one hand, 2019 was a strong opening season for the new Red Bull-Honda partnership, though on the other it took a while for the package to gel. That said, when it did come together, Max was ready.

The manner in which he cruised past Vettel in Melbourne served notice that Honda was taking serious strides forward, though, other than Barcelona, where he took a second podium, we had to wait until Austria before it all came together.

Though the late move on race-leader Leclerc in Austria was cheeky, to say the least, Max drove a great race, and it was understandable when Honda officials openly wept as the Japanese manufacturer finally returned to the top step of the podium.

While there were times when the Red Bull appeared to be the fastest car out there - Max revelling in it when Honda finally allowed him to turn it up to 11 - all too often the Austrian team was support act to Mercedes and, to a lesser extent, Ferrari.

However, superb consistency, typically hard, elbows-out, intuitive racing saw the Dutchman as one of the most consistent drivers out there, only failing to score points in two outings, when he was forced to retire due to accident damage.

After Austria, interest centred on the battle between Max and the sport's other rising star, Leclerc, a pair of protagonists who offer the prospect of some intriguing battles in the years to come.

In Brazil, twelve months after that unfortunate and needless incident with Ocon, Max 2.0 drove a commanding, faultless race to take his third victory of the season, following up a bold move on Hamilton with a spirited defence of his lead in difficult conditions.

Over the course of the season we saw a more mature Max, a Max less prone to the red mist, a Max more willing to think before making a move.

In Mexico however, having taken a superb pole, when asked about the yellow flag that followed Bottas' crash, Max openly boasted about not slowing down. Like the act itself, boasting about it was dumb, and the stewards had no option but to penalise the youngster by handing him a grid penalty.

Other than that, and a few questionable moves - best to consult with the likes of Leclerc - Max appeared to have matured significantly since the misery of Monaco 2018.

Of course, this was bad news for Gasly, who, in his efforts to match the Dutchman, compromised his own performances and was dropped mid-season. Still in his debut season, Alex Albon was brought in from Toro Rosso, and though he did an admirable job, out-scoring Max in a sequence of seven races, the youngster was no match for the Dutchman.

Days into the New Year, two weeks after Leclerc extended his contract with Ferrari, Red Bull announced that Max was staying with the Austrian team until the end of 2023.

Helmut Marko subsequently admitted that the move was a no-brainer for the team, for in retaining Max it had ended any chance of Mercedes prising the youngster away should Hamilton decide to move on, while also sending a clear signal of commitment to Honda.

If Max learns the lesson of Mexico, and continues to mature, there is every chance that, assuming Red Bull and Honda play their part, the youngster will be world champion in the not too distant future.

For proof that the 'Max factor' has swept the sport, look no further than the fact that after an absence of over 30 years, Zandvoort returns to the calendar in 2020, a circuit where the Orange Army is sure to be every bit as visible and vocal as anything the Tifosi can muster at Monza.

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