Site icon Paddock Magazine

13. Max Verstappen

max verstappen rb19

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez seen during a photo shoot of the kit launch of Red Bull Racing in London, United Kingdom in 2023. // Red Bull Racing / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202301310411 // Usage for editorial use only //

Age 25
Occupation Driver, Red Bull Racing
Nationality Dutch
Position Last Year 24

Max Emilian Verstappen (born September 30, 1997) is a Belgian-Dutch racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 2021 and 2022. He competes under the Dutch flag in Formula One with Red Bull Racing.

Click here to subscribe to our print edition!

Max took the karting world by storm, winning national, international and world titles. Then, when he was old enough, he switched to single-seaters and raced in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2014.

Against more experienced opposition Max won 10 races on his way to third place in the championship. However, he had planned his next move long before the conclusion of his debut single-seater season, and 16-year-old Max joined the Red Bull Junior Team in August and was announced as a 2015 race driver for Toro Rosso.

After three FP1 appearances in 2014 and a short winter testing programme, Max made his Grand Prix debut at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, aged 17 years and 166 days – the youngest driver in the sport’s history. Two weeks later, he broke another record, becoming Formula One’s youngest points scorer with a seventh-place finish in Malaysia.

A second season with Red Bull’s junior squad began in style with three points finishes from his first three races. The talent to challenge for bigger prizes was clear, and ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Max was drafted into the Red Bull Racing line-up. His impact was nothing short of spectacular. He qualified third, drove an immaculate race to claim his first F1 victory, and became the sport’s youngest race winner – despite confessing he was not entirely sure what all the buttons on the steering wheel did.

During the next four seasons, Max Verstappen became a regular race winner and a big star in his sport. Alongside his rise, the Team returned to sustained competitiveness, with Max emerging as a genuine title contender.

In 2020 he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, taking victories at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The wins were supported by remarkable consistency, as he finished on the podium 11 times from the 12 races where he saw the chequered flag.

With momentum building and the bulk of the 2020 car carried over to the following year, the stage was set for Max to make his first serious bid for championship glory in 2021. The Dutchman took his first win of the season with a battling second-round drive at Imola, and three races later, he put in a faultless performance in Monte Carlo to take his first Monaco Grand Prix win. The victory in the Principality also propelled him to the top of the Championship standings for the first time in his F1 career.

A third victory of the campaign arrived at the French Grand Prix before delivering a brace of crushing wins at the Team’s home circuit, the Red Bull Ring, home of the Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix.

After the summer break, Max won the half-points Belgian Grand Prix and then won easily at Zandvoort, where the Dutch Grand Prix was held for the first time since 1985. This broke a tough winless streak in the middle of the season. A brilliant US Grand Prix win in October was followed a week later by Max’s third Mexican Grand Prix victory in four years, and he looked set to march to title glory.

However, the Team’s rivals managed to find a significant performance boost, and over the next three rounds, the Dutchman’s chief rival, Lewis Hamilton, roared back into contention. In the end, after 21 games and almost 23,000 laps raced, the fight went down to the wire at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Max level on points with Hamilton.

The battle was epic, highly charged, and hard-fought. Still, following a late safety car, Max closed in and overtook Hamilton on the last lap of the race to take the race lead, victory, and the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title.

In March 2022, Max Verstappen signed a five-year contract extension with Red Bull Racing for the 2023 to 2028 seasons.

Verstappen suffered two fuel system-related retirements in the first three races in 2022, finding himself 46 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc. He responded by winning five of the next seven races, allowing him to take the championship lead and build a gap of 37 points over second place, then held by his teammate Sergio Pérez. He would dominate much of the season, winning 15 races and securing the World Drivers’ Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix.

prev View full list next
Exit mobile version