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After a short period in lower racing classes, Max Verstappen has been driving for the Red Bull Racing team since 2016. In 2020, Verstappen seems to have the biggest chance out of his still short career to become world champion, now that the rules remain the same and Red Bull and Honda are on the heels of the great rival Mercedes.
|Team||Red Bull Racing|
Young started the march towards the top
As the son of Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, the young Max can be found on the track early on in his life. An activity that the Dutchman later also continues in karting and Formula 3, before ending up in the king's class of motorsport: Formula 1.
After years of racing in karts and achieving success, the Dutchman took his place in cars in higher classes, including a number of Formula Renault 2.0 cars and those of the Florida Winter Series. All this before the first meters are made in Formula 3. After that the career of Verstappen goes by lightning fast.
One year Verstappen drives in Formula 3, for Van Amersfoort Racing. Although the Dutchman takes several victories, it is the Frenchman (and later competitor in Formula 1) Esteban Ocon who takes the title in 2014. For Verstappen only a small blemish on the overall picture, as the step to Formula 1 has been made anyway.
Without a title in Formula 3 in his pocket, Max Verstappen still moves to Formula 1 as a member of the Red Bull-junior programme. Scuderia Toro Rosso offers the Dutchman a place and thus makes history: At sixteen years old Verstappen is the youngest offspring in Formula 1 ever. Even if Max is one year older in Australia 2015 he will appear on the grid alongside Carlos Sainz. A race where points seem possible for a long time!
After 34 laps, however, fate strikes when the Toro Rosso (not for the last time that season) gives up and prematurely ends the debut race of Verstappen. Team mate Carlos Sainz does score by finishing ninth.
On two occasions Max Verstappen comes very close to taking a podium place in his first season in Formula 1, namely in Hungary and the United States. On two occasions Verstappen will have to settle for fourth place in 2015. Something that would change very quickly in 2016...
Promotion to Red Bull Racing
After four races (and three times having fallen into the points), an announcement is made that turns Formula 1 upside down: Max Verstappen replaces Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull Racing, who, in turn, takes the place of Verstappen at Toro Rosso. That while the Russian managed to take a podium place before the changeover in the race!
The pressure on the shoulders of Verstappen to perform is therefore enormous: showing that Red Bull has made the right choice. During the race weekend in Spain Max Verstappen took place in Red Bull's F1 car and took the challenge. A race not to be forgotten in a hurry.
Spanish Grand Prix 2016 in Barcelona
After a bizarre opening lap where Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton hit each other off the track, it's Max Verstappen who takes the lead. The Dutchman can't be caught on any fault, after which Verstappen climbs onto the highest step of the podium. The youngest Formula 1 driver ever to stand on it!
With 204 points at the end of the season, Verstappen is far too short to make it to the title. Mercedes is extremely dominant that year, just like the previous year, and Red Bull only gets a supporting role. Even in the two years after the debut of Verstappen at Red Bull it remains a dream about the title.
2018 and beyond
The last season of Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull starts rough for Verstappen. The RB14 is not as strong as expected, after which Max Verstappen tries too hard to squeeze out more than possible. Mistakes pile up and in Monaco it comes to an eruption: the Dutchman shoots into the wall towards the end of the third practice session and has to watch helplessly as his team mate takes pole position. One day later the same Daniel Ricciardo also wins the Monaco 2018 Grand Prix.
After the race weekend in the hometown of Verstappen, the turnaround comes. Mistakes are exchanged for excellent results, podiums and victories are also coming back around the corner. Towards the end of the season it is Verstappen who has the luck on his side and team mate Ricciardo who has become the unlucky man of the season.
The Dutchman is barely a few World Championship points short to finish third in the championship, but sets the tone for the new season. One without Daniel Ricciardo and Renault engine, but with Pierre Gasly and a Honda engine!
In 2019 Verstappen had to take the lead at Red Bull, when Ricciardo makes the switch to Renault. Verstappen took this responsibility and proved himself to be an adult from the start. In interviews the new engine partner, Honda, gets all the compliments and also the Red Bull team can't do anything wrong.
The switch to Honda seems to be a success in 2019, because with three victories and two official poles Verstappen has his best season so far. On top of that the Dutchman also ends in third place in the standings and with that for the faster Ferrari's. So the first year promises a lot for the second year of cooperation, when the biggest chance seems to be in 2020.
Max Verstappen in 2020
The Dutch Grand Prix will return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2020 and it could just be that in the same year Dutch fans could go crazy. Verstappen is a big favourite for the 2020 title. The end of 2019 promises a lot and the rules will remain the same for 2020.
Still, there is always the fear that the superpower of the last six seasons will find something extra. Since 2014 Mercedes have outsmarted the competition every year, but will it still be able to do so in 2020? Adrian Newey has the task of getting the car ready for the first race. Verstappen won't win the championship in Melbourne, but everyone will be very disappointed if they don't compete for the marbles.
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