Verstappen celebrates his 24th birthday: A look at his impressive career

30-09-2021 07:17 | Updated: 30-09-2021 09:10
F1 News
Verstappen celebrates his 24th birthday: A look at his impressive career

Max Verstappen turned 24 years old today. We send our best wishes to Verstappen and take a look back at his already impressive career, with a possible new highlight at the end of this season.

Verstappen in the kart at an early age

Jos Verstappen always wanted his son Max to go-karting, but when the young boy asks for a kart at the age of four, his father thinks it's too early. Nevertheless, he got one and it soon became clear that he had the same talent as his mother and father. Together with his father, he travels half of Europe to hunt for titles in karting.

Despite a world title in karting Jos and manager Raymond Vermeulen keep away from various F1 training programmes. Jos wants to stay in control and determine where Max can drive. After winning the world title in karting they already choose for Formula 3. A huge step, but with the necessary test kilometres in the legs they hope that Max can compete directly.

This turns out to be the case. Max is a title contender from the first race, and although he ends up third in the standings, he is the driver who makes the most impression. Champion Esteban Ocon will have to spend a few more years in the preliminary classes, but Verstappen can make the switch to Formula 1 right away.

Too early for Formula 1?

It all seems a bit quick, but Jos, Max and Raymond (Vermeulen) are convinced that Toro Rosso is the best next step. They also have talks with Mercedes and Ferrari but none of these teams offers Max a spot in F1 right away. Helmut Marko is ridiculed for doing so, but is proven right afterwards.

As the youngest ever, Max debuts in Formula 1 in 2015 and he doesn't disappoint. He becomes the youngest ever driver with points and is clearly the better one in the team with Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard is also a rookie that year, but one with much more experience in the entry-level classes. All those extra metres are not everything. With two fourth places in a car that belongs somewhere in the middle of the pack, Verstappen made a big impression.

The dream at Red Bull Racing

In 2016, Verstappen started at Toro Rosso but got his chance at Red Bull Racing after just a few races. Daniil Kvyat has played down his credit there, and Verstappen is pushed forward. The Dutchman has a dream debut. The Mercedes drivers knocked each other out and Red Bull gave Verstappen the strategy that turned out to be the best. He held off Kimi Raikkonen for laps and cruised to victory in the Spanish GP.

Red Bull Racing only won one other race that season. In Malaysia, it is Daniel Ricciardo who celebrates. Verstappen came close but ultimately has to settle for second place. Although the 2017 season with the Renault engine was disappointing, Verstappen still manages to win a race in Mexico and Malaysia. The relief is great and the pressure on the family can be read from his sister Victoria's face.

Criticism of Verstappen

2018 should've been the year in which Red Bull and Renault compete for the title again. Verstappen has had an inferior season start with a number of big mistakes. It is part of his learning process. The Dutchman received a lot of criticism during this period and is under a magnifying glass because his teammate managed to win two races.

Since the Canadian Grand Prix, however, Verstappen has regained his form and will continue to lead Red Bull. He outmanoeuvred Ricciardo for the rest of the season, taking two more victories and a fourth place in the world championship. Meanwhile, Red Bull has signed a new deal with Honda, finally getting rid of the detested Renault engines. Daniel Ricciardo is just leaving for Renault's main team, beginning the second driver saga at Red Bull.

In 2019, Mercedes is again the team to beat, as expected, but Red Bull is in good shape in their first year with Honda. Verstappen takes an immediate podium in the first race in Australia, but notices in the races after that that the team also has some shortcomings. It was not until the race in Austria that Verstappen managed to win a race.

Just short of a title race

Verstappen's consistent performance is starting to become noticeable. Whereas in previous years he sometimes had a poor performance, he now manages to get the maximum out of his car in almost every race. This has earned him three wins and a third place in the standings. If he wins the Brazilian GP and gets on the podium in Abu Dhabi, everyone will be ready for title contention in 2020.

However, that title fight will not come yet. Mercedes appears to have found an extra gear, preventing Honda and Red Bull from catching up. Verstappen crashed out in the first race in Austria, and the same happened again in Monza and Imola. Despite two more crashes through no fault of his own, Verstappen again finished third in the standings.

The title battle with Hamilton

In 2021, it's finally time for real. With rules that simplify aerodynamics on the floor and diffuser and a new engine from Honda, Verstappen gets off to a great start. He won or came second in the first five races, but a blowout in Azerbaijan seemed to spoil everything.

Under Verstappen's pressure, however, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made mistakes, so Verstappen is still in the race for the title, despite dropping out of the race in Azerbaijan and Great Britain. The Red Bull driver is now second in the standings, two points behind Hamilton and with just seven races to go. It looks set to remain exciting until the end of the season.

Meanwhile, at 24 years of age, Verstappen may not be the youngest world champion ever in F1, but he doesn't care. Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso all won their first titles before Verstappen, but Michael Schumacher didn't win his first until he was 25. So it says nothing about the rest of your career. All other records are still up for grabs for the Dutchman.

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