Max Verstappen in profile | Red Bull’s ace leading the Championship race

09-06-2021 10:00
Column
Max Verstappen in profile | Red Bull’s ace leading the Championship race

For the first time in his career, Max Verstappen has held his lead in the Drivers’ Championship over those around him and it looks like this could be his year for glory. Despite crashing out in Baku, his four-point lead over his Mercedes rival was kept intact for another race. With two wins under his belt already and Red Bull leading in the Constructors’ Championship as well, this season couldn’t have started any better for the Dutchman.

Verstappen has been in the Formula 1 limelight for many of the seasons past and has finally managed to claim the hope and belief of critics and everyone within the sport. F1’s youngest ever competitor has made a name for himself and seven seasons in, the 23-year-old has 12 race wins to his name and counting.

Success has always been a part of his life and in his 125 Grand Prix’s he’s entered, he’s scored 1267 points, an average of 10.136 points per race. It’s clear that more wins and success in the worlds premier motorsport competition are on the way, but how has Max Verstappen got to where he is in Formula 1?

How did his career start?

Racing started from a young age for Verstappen. Four to be exact. The son of former F1 racer Joe Verstappen was a star in karting and won endless amounts of titles throughout all age groups. In his first year in karting, a second-place in a Mini Junior Competition in his home province of Limburg was the best he could achieve, but it turned out to be the kick-start in his illustrious junior career.

Promotion to the Rotax Max Minimax class followed and a victory in the Belgian Championship in 2006 was backed up by victory in the Dutch Championship in 2007. He competed at the Mini Max level for the next couple of years and was once again on top. He won every championship he competed in between 2006 and 2009, except the VAS Championship. In 2009, he joined Pex Racing Team and competed in the KF5 Belgian Championship as well as the Mini Max level, in which he won both.

International karting was the next item on the checklist for Verstappen as he made his debut in 2010. He signed and raced for CRG in many championships at the KF3 level, continuing his winning streak until the CIK-FIA World Cup. He fell short to former Formula 1 and Red Bull teammate Alex Albon. However, was able to beat the Thai driver at the WSK Euro Series. He also won the WSK World Series event. However, in the CIK-FIA European Championship, the young Dutchman was only able to best the fifth place.

The next two years of karting didn’t bring in as much success for Verstappen as potentially hoped. Only three wins, with one coming for CRG and one as a part of the Intrepid Driver Program. On the other hand, his final year in karting was much like prior. He won the 2013 European KF and KZ championships before he won the 2013 World KZ Championship in the KZ1 category, the highest karting category.

He then made the switch to single-seater racing for one year in 2014. He made his debut in the Florida Winter Series, where he won two races, claimed three pole positions and fastest laps and stood on the podium five times. He then competed in the Formula 3 European Championship. He went on to win 10 of the 33 races and stood on the podium 16 more times, on top of his victories. Verstappen finished third overall behind current F1 driver Esteban Ocon and current Formula E driver Tom Blomqvist.

Verstappen’s Formula 1 career:

Being a part of the Red Driver Junior Team played into Verstappen’s favour as he rewarded with his first seat in F1 in 2015, driving for Toro Rosso. This came after he became the youngest driver ever to take part in a Grand Prix weekend when he tested for the Italian team at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

He completed his 2015 season with Toro Rosso and ended with 49 points, finishing 12th overall in the Driver’s Championship. By doing this, he broke a number of F1 records, becoming the youngest driver to start a race at 17 years old and 166 days and also the youngest driver to score a point just two weeks later at the Malaysian Grand Prix. He started the following season at Toro Rosso but after just four races was switched to Red Bull, with Daniil Kvyat moving the opposite direction.

He made his debut for Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix and made history. Verstappen became the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix as he took victory ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo after starting from fourth on the grid. His victory added his name three more times into the history books, this time for being the youngest driver to win a race, score a podium finish and lead a race. In his first eight races for the Austrian team, he finished in the top-five six times, with four of these having the Dutchman standing on the podium at the end of the race. He finished the season fifth overall in the standings, with his one victory in Spain, one fastest lap and seven podium places.

The next four seasons saw Verstappen become a household name, victories and podiums came regularly for the Dutchman but it was never anything more than that. He finished sixth, fourth and then back-to-back third-place finishes in the Championship behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. In this spell, he racked up nine victories, three pole positions, nine fastest laps and 35 podium finishes. However, he did see some controversy at the same time, most notably in 2018 in Baku. He was in an intense battle with Ricciardo and after a series of attacks from the Australian, a hard-defensive move from Verstappen saw his teammate run into the back of him and retire both cars.

On the other hand, this season couldn’t have started any better for Verstappen. Two victories and three podiums in six races has resulted in the Red Bull driver leading the Championship battle and has helped Red Bull steal the lead off of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. A third victory should have been in his name in Azerbaijan on the weekend but a tyre failure stopped him from extending his lead on Hamilton. However, there are still 17 races left in the season so anything can happen. At the moment, Verstappen is leading the championship and deservedly so.

Video player

More videos

  • Small
  • Big