Over the last 10 years, development in F1 has been rapid. The cars have become more technical and there are all...
After a short period in lower racing classes, Max Verstappen has been driving for the Red Bull Racing team since 2016. In 2021, Verstappen seems to have the biggest chance out of his still short career to become world champion, now that the rules remain the same. Red Bull and Honda are on the heels of their great rivals Mercedes.
|Team||Red Bull Racing|
The march towards the top
As the son of Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, the young Verstappen can be found on the track early on in his life. The Dutchman continues in karting and Formula 3, before ending up at the pinnacle of motorsport: Formula 1.
After years of racing in karts and achieving success, the Dutchman took his place in cars in higher classes, including several 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.
Red Bull junior
Without a Formula 3 title 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 driver in Formula 1 ever. Even if Verstappen is one year older in Australia 2015 he appeared on the grid alongside Carlos Sainz. A race where points seemed possible for a long time!
After 34 laps the Toro Rosso (not for the last time that season) gives up and prematurely ends Verstappen's debut race. Teammate 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 scoring 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.
The pressure on the shoulders of Verstappen to perform is enormous: showing that Red Bull has made the right choice. During the race weekend in Spain, Max Verstappen took his 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 crashed into each other, 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 are extremely dominant that year, just like the previous year, and Red Bull only gets a supporting role.
2018 and beyond
The last season of Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull starts roughly 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 teammate 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.
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 ahead of the two Ferrari cars. In 2020, Verstappen maintained this position in third. The Dutchman won the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, which was almost enough to beat Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in the Drivers' Championship.
Max Verstappen in 2021
The Dutch Grand Prix will make a return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2021. Red Bull Racing are closing the gap to Mercedes, but whether they've closed it enough is yet to be known. The end of 2020 promises a lot and the rules will remain the same for 2021.
The same has been said about Verstappen for several years now. However, in 2021 he will get a very strong teammate in Sergio Perez. This should mean he isn't the only fighting the Mercedes cars in most Grands Prix.
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