Max Verstappen: Knocking On The Doors Of Stardom

HARSHVARDHAN GHADGE | 16th September 2019

As the decade-long rivalry between two racing titans, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel seems to be virtually over, the fandom is now in search of the next big dogfight on the road.

With Toro Rosso and Ferrari going wheel to wheel in the Red Bull ring for the podium finish, Formula 1 fanatics know they have a budding rivalry at their hands. Dutchman Max Verstappen, is increasingly attracting the attention of F1 fans and commentators, not only because of his aggressive, full throttle racing style which has seen him become the centre of controversy. For instance, his collisions, most recently with Vettel during the Japan Grand Prix and incurring penalties. The 21-year-old is also in the spotlight because of his talent behind the wheel and is being tipped to have a bright future in the sport.

Verstappen, a young charismatic driver from Belgium was picked up by the famous Red Bull Racing from their junior racing programme in 2016, mid-season as a replacement for the-then Red bull driver, Daniil Kvyat. An 18-year-old Belgian-Dutch kid behind a Red Bull wheel wasn’t a regular sight. The hype was immense, the pressure, even more.

Amidst all the chaos and scepticism from the media, Max was the one with a cool head. On his debut aged just 18, driving for a monstrous racing unit like Honda, Verstappen picked up his first victory in front of the Spanish crowd. After becoming the youngest F1 driver to register a win at a Grand Prix, the youngster announced himself to the world in some style.

Daniel Ricciardo was the Red Bull leader before this season, but with him joining rivals Renault, Max became the Honda powered car’s leading race driver at just 21. With an improved Honda engine for the 2019 and the 2020 season, Verstappen is tipped to compete for major honours in the coming years.

Many believe that his adventurous racing and sharp instincts are passed on from his father Jos Verstappen, who was nicknamed ‘The Dutch Devil’ as well as ‘Jos the boss’ in the F1 community. But the racing relations have deeper roots as even his mother, Sophie Kumpen was a successful Belgian kart racer.

Apart from his thunderous driving, Max is known to keep a low profile, keeping away from buzz. An 800 per cent rise in his salary in the last 2 years saw him move out of his father’s house and settle down in Monaco.

Max has climbed the podium for six times this season, which included two triumphs. This takes his podium tally to 27 with 7 of them as the victor. This season, Charles Leclerc has just edged the Dutchman, but the future appears to be exciting and full of rigorous racing battles for Max Verstappen.