Max Verstappen; born 30 September 1997, is a Belgian-Dutch racing driver who competes under the Dutch flag in Formula One with Red Bull Racing. Aged 17 years, 166 days, he became the youngest driver to compete in Formula 1 at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix for Scuderia Toro Rosso. He is also the youngest driver to lead a lap during a Formula One Grand Prix, youngest driver to set the fastest lap during a Formula One Grand Prix, youngest driver to score points, youngest driver to secure a podium and youngest Formula One Grand Prix winner in history.
After spending the entire 2015 season with Scuderia Toro Rosso, he started his 2016 campaign with the Italian team, before being promoted into Red Bull Racing mid-season as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat. He won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix in his debut race for Red Bull Racing at the age of 18, becoming the youngest-ever winner of a Grand Prix and the first racing under the Dutch flag. He is the son of former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen.
Max was born into a family of racing drivers. His father Jos Verstappen is a former Formula One driver while his mother Sophie Kumpen is a former successful kart driver. His grandfather Paul Kumpen is a former GT endurance driver and his uncle Anthony Kumpen is a FIA GT and 24 Hours of Le Mans driver. Through his parents he holds both Belgian and Dutch citizenship, and although he was born and raised in Belgium he decided to compete with a Dutch racing licence because he spent most of his time karting surrounded by Dutch people.
In August 2014, Verstappen joined the Red Bull Junior Team after testing a Formula Renault 3.5 car. He also considered an offer from Mercedes to join their driver development programme. Six days later, he was confirmed as one of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s drivers for the 2015 season. It was confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. would be Verstappen’s teammate, following Daniil Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull Racing. Verstappen chose 33 as his race number.
By taking part in the first free practice at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen became the youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend, as part of his preparation for a full-time place with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015.
In January 2015, the FIA launched a new super licence system for Formula One, raising the age limit to 18 from the 2016 season onwards. Verstappen became the youngest driver to start a World Championship race by joining the sport a year before this licence restriction, in his Grand Prix debut as a full-time driver at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 17 years, 166 days – breaking Jaime Alguersuari’s existing record by almost two years. In this first race, Verstappen won points-scoring positions until he was forced to retire due to an engine failure. However, at the subsequent race in Malaysia, Verstappen qualified sixth and finished the race in seventh place, scoring his first Formula One points aged 17 years, 180 days, breaking the record of youngest driver to score World Championship points. After that he then failed to finish with points in China, due to engine failure in the last lap, Bahrain, due to electrical issues, Spain, settling for 11th.
At the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen was involved in a high-speed collision with Romain Grosjean, after clipping the back of the Lotus on the approach to Sainte Devote and flew nose-first into the barriers at high speed. Verstappen was given a five-place grid penalty for causing the accident, and was branded “dangerous” by Williams driver Felipe Massa – although Verstappen hit back at Massa by pointing out he had himself been involved in a similar incident with Sergio Pérez at the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix.
Verstappen continued to regularly finish in the points as well as achieving his best finish of the 2015 season in Hungary by finishing 4th and equaled this result at the United States Grand Prix. At the end of the season, Verstappen received three awards at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony, for Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year and Action of the Year for his overtake on Felipe Nasr through the outside of the Blanchimont corner at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Verstappen began the 2016 season at Toro Rosso, again alongside Sainz. Verstappen qualified fifth for the opening race of the season in Australia, but during the race made several radio calls to his team due to frustration at being behind Sainz on track before clipping his teammate whilst attempting to pass him with three laps to go, and he eventually finished tenth. Verstappen enjoyed a more successful weekend at the following race in Bahrain, finishing sixth to score Toro Rosso’s first ever points at the Sakhir circuit.
Following the Russian Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that Verstappen would be replacing Daniil Kvyat for the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, with Kvyat returning to Toro Rosso. According to Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, “Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent. His performance at Toro Rosso has been impressive so far and we are pleased to give him the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing.”
After qualifying fourth for the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen rose to second behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap after Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed out of the race. Verstappen took the race lead as he was placed on a two-stop rather than the same three-stop strategy as Ricciardo, and he held off Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen in the later stages of the race to take his first Formula One victory. By doing so he displaced Sebastian Vettel as the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One Grand Prix at the age of 18 years and 228 days.
In his first eight races with Red Bull he achieved six top-five finishes, including four podiums.
During the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen collided with Räikkönen at the first corner, pushed Vettel, Räikkönen and Pérez wide at Les Combes, and aggressively blocked Räikkönen on the Kemmel straight. Verstappen was criticized for his driving, with Räikkönen saying that he “was going to cause a huge accident sooner or later”; Verstappen’s boss, Horner, said that the driving was “on the edge”, and that “Verstappen will learn from Belgium”. On 2 September 2016 F1 director Charlie Whiting called in Verstappen for a discussion. Whiting gave Verstappen a gentle warning because of his aggressive driving. However, in October drivers’ concerns about Verstappen’s defensive tactics led the FIA to disallow moving under braking.
At the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Verstappen qualified fourth. In a rain affected race, he barely managed to avoid hitting the guardrail when he spun on the main straight. After an additional tire change from intermediates back to rain tires, he ran in 16th place with just 15 laps remaining. Verstappen then made several overtakes in the closing laps to eventually finish on the podium in third place. He received considerable praise for his performance, with his team principal Christian Horner calling it “one of the best drives I’ve seen in Formula One”. However, he came under criticism from Sebastian Vettel, who claimed that Verstappen had pushed him off the track when he gained a position on him at Junção corner late in the race. The race stewards did not share Vettel’s view and decided that no reprimand was warranted.
During the first 14 races of the 2017 season, Verstappen suffered seven retirements, four due to mechanical issues, and three due to first lap collisions in Spain, Austria and Singapore. Of the races finished, however, he claimed a third place in China, and another five races classified fourth or fifth.
From the Malaysian Grand Prix onward, Verstappen enjoyed a surge of success. He won his second Formula One race at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, one day after his 20th birthday, passing Lewis Hamilton for the lead in the early stages of the race. He finished second in the following race in Japan. He then finished third at the United States Grand Prix, but was classified fourth after his final lap overtake on Kimi Räikkönen was deemed illegal. He then won his third Formula One race (and second in 2017) at the Mexican Grand Prix, after passing Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap and leading until the end of the race.
In the first 6 races of the 2018 season, Verstappen had been involved in at least one incident in each race. In Australia, he qualified 4th, but fell behind Kevin Magnussen at the start. In his attempts to retake the position he ran wide multiple times and damaged his car. He then spun at Turn 1 and fell behind Romain Grosjean, a recovering Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg. He then managed, due to strategy and the retirement of the Haas cars to salvage 6th place, coming home behind Fernando Alonso, who had jumped him in the virtual safety car period. At the next race in Bahrain, he crashed during qualifying and started in 15th place. He had a productive first lap after which he found himself in the points while challenging Lewis Hamilton. He attempted an overtake on the reigning World Champion at the start of lap two, but collided with the Mercedes driver and suffered a puncture that ultimately led to suspension damage which forced him out of the race.
At the next race, in China, he qualified 5th and had moved up to 3rd at the end of the first lap. Both Verstappen and teammate Ricciardo pitted for fresh tyres during the safety car and left them with a tyre advantage over the front-runners ahead. Verstappen tried to overtake Lewis Hamilton around the outside of Turn 6 but ran wide and off the track, resulting in Ricciardo overtaking him. Once he had dispatched of Hamilton for 4th place, he tried to take 3rd from Sebastian Vettel but he collided with the championship leader, causing him to fall to 8th, while receiving a 10-second penalty. Following this he, once again, passed the struggling Mercedes of Hamilton for 4th and finished in that position. However, he still finished 5th due to his 10-second penalty. Meanwhile, his teammate Ricciardo went on to win the race.
At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he was embroiled in a race-long battle with Ricciardo for 4th place. After the Australian had beaten him to 4th on the grid, Verstappen seized the position following an early safety car restart. Ricciardo challenged many times for the place and eventually succeeded in passing his teammate. However, Ricciardo, supposedly on the more favourable strategy, fell behind Verstappen after the pit stops. He then tried another overtake but Verstappen aggressively defended and ran into the back of the Dutchman’s car, causing the retirement of both. The team blamed both drivers and the stewards reprimanded both drivers.
Verstappen bounced back in Spain with his first podium of the season by finishing 3rd behind the Mercedes cars, holding off Sebastian Vettel. However, the race was also not without incident as he had run into the back of Lance Stroll during the virtual safety car period, damaging his front wing. The damage his car was not severe and he held on to 3rd place.
In Monaco, Verstappen made another error when he crashed near the end of the third free pactice session in an incident which closely resembled a crash he had at the same spot two years earlier. His team could not repair his car in time for qualifying and he had to start last on a track which is notoriously difficult to overtake on. Verstappen managed to salvage 2 points by finishing 9th place, overtaking 6 cars on track. Team principal Christian Horner commented on Verstappen’s start of the season, saying he “needed to stop making these mistakes” and that he could “learn from his teammate”, while Dr Helmut Marko, head of driver development at Red Bull, said that Verstappen was “too impatient”. Verstappen, following Monaco, lied in 6th place in the championship with 35 points, only 3 points ahead of Alonso in a much slower Mclaren, and 37 points behind his teammate in 3rd, who had taken two wins in the first 6 races.
At the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix, Verstappen topped all three practice sessions and qualified 3rd and was two tenths off pole position which was won by Sebastian Vettel. At the beginning of the race, Verstappen pushed Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for 2nd place. However a safety car was deployed during the middle of the 1st lap caused by a collision between Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley and Williams Grand Prix Engineering driver Lance Stroll. He finished third in the race and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 65.
The 2018 French Grand Prix brought him second place. At the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix, on Red Bull’s home track, he started fourth on the grid, passed Kimi Räikkönen and taking advantage of retirement from Valtteri Bottas and a botched pit-stop strategy by Lewis Hamilton, who later had to retire in fourth place, he won the fourth race of his career.
More information on Max Verstappen on verstappen.nl.
Overview Dutch Formula One drivers:
Jan Flinterman (1952)
Dries van der Lof (1952)
Carel Godin de Beaufort (1957 – 1964)
Ben Pon (1962)
Rob Slotemaker* (1962)
Gijs van Lennep (1971 – 1975)
Roelof Wunderink (1975)
Boy Hayje (1976 – 1977)
Michael Bleekemolen (1977 – 1978)
Jan Lammers (1979 – 1992)
Huub Rothengatter (1984 – 1986)
Jos Verstappen (1994 – 2003)
Robert Doornbos (2004 – 2006)
Christijan Albers (2005 – 2007)
Giedo van der Garde (2008 – 2014)
Robin Frijns* (2013 – 2014)
Max Verstappen (2014 – …)