#33 MAX VERSTAPPEN
Max Verstappen’s remarkable rise through the ranks had people talking before he got to Formula 1. When he did arrive, people had even more reason to talk. Now a proven race winner, the next step for the Dutchman is surely a title charge.
|Full Name||Max Emilian Verstappen|
|Date of Birth||30th September 1997|
|First Race||2015 Australian Grand Prix|
|First Win||2016 Spanish Grand Prix|
Born in 1997, the son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen began karting when he was four years old. After competing in the Rotax Max Minimax class and winning the Belgian championship, Max went on to win the 2007 Dutch Minimax championship. In 2010 he made the step up to international karting, finishing second in his first year at the KF3 World Cup. He continued in karting for the next three years.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Verstappen had his first taste of a ‘proper’ racing car. After testing a Formula 3 car in the December, and going faster than regular Formula 3 drivers, he stepped into the European Formula 3 Championship for 2014. While on his way to third in that Championship, Max joined the Red Bull junior team, after refusing an offer from Mercedes. Six days after joining it was announced that Max, who was just sixteen at the time, would become a Toro Rosso driver in 2015. He had his first F1 practice outing at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver to participate in a Formula One weekend.
Many said he was too young and too inexperienced. Formula 1 even introduced a rule in January 2015 so that drivers could only enter the sport once they were eighteen. But nothing phased the now seventeen year old Verstappen. After running in the top ten in his maiden race he was forced into retirement by engine troubles. He qualified sixth in his second Grand Prix and finished the race seventh, becoming the youngest F1 points scorer. The season progressed with the odd rookie error – notably his crash with Grosjean in Monaco – but the points kept coming.
Max remained at Toro Rosso for the start of the 2016 season, but it wasn’t long before he and Daniil Kvyat infamously swapped seats. The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix went down in history as, in his first outing for Red Bull, Max Verstappen became the youngest ever race winner. He went on to perform well throughout the rest of the season, firmly cementing his position as a champion in waiting.
It was a season of two halves for Verstappen in 2017. While the first half was dogged with one reliability problem after another, he scored two wins in the second half. He beat his team-mate in Qualifying over the course of the season. Despite being the full-term driver who competed the least laps in 2017, Verstappen made himself seen in the races where he was able to compete – finishing no lower than fifth in every race he finished, with the exception of the Italian Grand Prix.
Verstappen had a scrappy opening to his 2018 campaign: a spin in Australia at a pivotal moment, collisions with Hamilton in Bahrain and with Vettel in China, a crash with his team-mate in Azerbaijan and, perhaps most costly of all, a crash in final practice at Monaco which saw him unable to take part in Qualifying. With media pressure mounting, Max soon silenced critics by returning to the podium in Canada and France and then won the Austrian Grand Prix. The Dutchman’s second half of the season was very strong indeed, with top five finishes in all of the last nine races, seven of those being podium finishes. Despite missing out on pole by just 0.026 seconds in Mexico, on a rare occasion where he was out-qualified by his team-mate, Verstappen claimed his second victory of the season.
While Verstappen will remain at Red Bull until at least the end of the 2020 season, it’s all change for his surroundings in 2019. Pierre Gasly joins as his new team-mate, bringing an interesting new dynamic to the team, as Red Bull run with Honda power for the first time. If the Honda engine is competitive, you can guarantee Verstappen will be in the running for more race victories in 2019, if not even a bid for his first world title.
MAX VERSTAPPEN’S F1 RECORD
|Year||Team||Final Position||Points Scored||Wins||Poles||Podiums|
|2016||Toro Rosso / Red Bull||5th||204||1||0||7|