Max Verstappen was coming in as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat ten days back from Red Bull Racing’s junior team Toro Rosso. He was going to take charge from Spanish GP in Barcelona up until the end of the season. Many pundits predicted this move could have even happened earlier considering Verstappen’s talent. Some, though, were skeptical given he’d been in an F1 car for just one season. And he was in a single-seater for one season too (in F3).
One could say that Motor Sport and success on the track were destined for him. Dutchman Verstappen comes from a strong background in motorsport with father Jos an F1 driver himself and mother Sophie Kumpen a kart driver.
Max’s career in motorsport, like other drivers, began on the karts and at an early age. He was into the karts at age four and soon enough was competing nationally and then internationally. By 2012, he had become the European and world karting champion. All this at the age of 15.
The following year, Verstappen stepped up to single seater driving with Florida Winter Series and then the tougher FIA European F3 Championship. In the sixth race, after impressive performances earlier, Verstappen did a pole/victory double to justify his talent.
If that wasn’t enough, he won six events in a row to climb to second in the championship. A week later, the now 18-year-old, won the F3 Masters at Zandvoort from start to finish. A month later, Max received the validation he needed, an entry into Red Bull’s junior driver programme. A week later, RBR placed him with Toro Rosso in 2015. He was going to partner with Carlos Sainz Jr – son to another motorsport legend.
In his first F1 season, Max started at the Australian GP to become the youngest driver to make a Formula 1 debut – at 17 years and 164 days. To add to his credentials, Verstappen finished seventh in the second race in Malaysia to become the youngest driver to score points. At the end of the season, the Dutch teenager finished with 49 points and picked up a record three awards at the FIA Awards – Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year and Action of the Year (for his overtake on Felipe Nasr at Belgian GP). Beyond that, Verstappen was one of the nominees for the Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year (which eventually went to golfer Jordan Spieth).
This season, Verstappen has finished 10th, 6th, 8th and retired at Australian GP, Bahrain GP, Chinese GP and Russian GP respectively. Up until now when he won the Spanish GP to become the youngest F1 driver to lead a race and then win a race.
One can expect plenty from Max in a sport where youngsters have started to prove their worth as legendary names have started to fade.