- March 04, 1972
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The Dutch Formula One racing driver Max Verstappen was an absolute hotshot in 2016, after his Spanish Grand Prix victory he became the most popular person in the world of motorsport. The kid who became the youngest F1 Grand Prix winner ever and the first driver from Netherland who won the Formula One race would be a front page star for many more years. But, all that wouldn't be possible without one man who literally created Max. Of course, we are talking about his father Jos Verstappen.
Proud father of a Formula One rising star
Johannes Franciscus Verstappen, better known as Jos, was also a Formula One driver. In many biographical articles, it was written that Jos is the most successful Dutch in Formula One ever. Well, it isn't true anymore. At the age of 18 and with just 24 Formula One races in his CV, Max scored his maiden F1 win at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix and overpassed his father, who participated in 106 Formula One races between 1994 and 2003, but never won the F1 race.
Jos Verstappen spent most of his career in Formula One, competing in eight seasons with seven different teams, but he achieved his most notable results in endurance racing, scoring a class victory at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2008.
Jos won the championship in his first racing season
Jos Verstappen, who was born on March 4, 1972, started his racing career in karting at the age of 8. As a teenager, he earned some Dutch and European championship titles. In 1992, he graduated in single-seater car racing. His debut in the Formula Opel Lotus was victorious and he won both the Benelux championship and the annual Nations Cup. In the Formula Opel Lotus Euroseries, he finished 7th in the classification.
Second title in the second season
During the European winter season 1992-1993, Jos competed in Formula Pacific New Zealand and finished fourth with three wins in 10 races. The next season back in Europe was again victorius, as Jos stepped up into the German Formula 3 Championship and took the title with eight wins in 20 races, driving for Opel Team WTS. He also won at the Masters of Formula 3 event and finished third at the Formula 3 Monaco Grand Prix.
Jos entered Formula One after just two seasons in feeder series
The highlight of the season was the Formula One test in September 1993 at the Estoril circuit. Jos Verstappen was driving for the Footwork Arrows team and he portrayed an impressive performance during the test, making lap times which would put him far in front of the grid at Formula One races.
After such impressive tests and after just two seasons in the feeder series, Jos Verstappen entered Formula One in 1994, joining the Benetton team as a test and reserve driver. Thirty years later, in 2015, his son Max made an even more astonishing impression and stepped into Formula One after just one season in the Formula 3 European Championship.
Presented with an unexpected chance to drive
Jos signed for Benetton as a test driver but unexpectedly, he gets a chance to drive in the season-opening race because the regular driver JJ Lehto was injured in the pre-season tests. Verstappen debuted in Formula One at the 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix, alongside teammate Michael Schumacher. Schumacher won the race while Verstappen collided with Eddie Irvine and retired on Lap 35. Verstappen was driving again at the Pacific Grand Prix at Okayama, Japan. He ran 6th but spun off on Lap 55.
Dramatic fire accident at Hockenheim
Lehto returned for the third round at Imola, but his bad performance in the following four races forced Benetton to dump him. Verstappen was again in the cockpit of the Benetton B194 at the French Grand Prix in July. He retired one more time. It's interesting that Michael Schumacher won all three races in which Verstappen participated. It was proof that he had a good car, capable of winning, but lack of experience costed him good results.
The season of 1994 was also marked by a dramatic accident at the German Grand Prix. During Verstappen's first scheduled pitstop, his car was engulfed in flames for few seconds. Fortunately, except for slight burns to his nose, Jos wasn't injured.
Two podiums in maiden F1 season
Verstappen finally crossed the finish line at the British Grand Prix. He was ninth but later was promoted to eighth place after Schumacher's disqualification. At the Hungarian Grand Prix in August, Verstappen finally clinch a victory, earning his maiden Formula One podium by finishing third behind Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill. Two weeks later, at the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen repeated the third place finish.
The career-best F1 season
He scored more points at Estoril, to finish 10th in the championship standings. It remained the career-best Formula One result for Jos, and two podiums at Hungaroring and Spa remained his only two F1 podiums in his racing career. In the following years, he was mostly driving for uncompetitive teams and he reached the points in only four of 96 races.
Briatore sent Jos to the Simtek team
For the last two races of the 1994 season, Verstappen was replaced by the more experienced Johnny Herbert in a bid to win the Constructors' Championship for Benetton. After the season, Benetton team principal Flavio Briatore sent Verstappen to the Simtek team. He participated in four races of the 1995 season, with three retirements and a 12th place at the Spanish Grand Prix. At the Monaco Grand Prix, he didn't start due to a gearbox failure, but the real reason were Simtek's financial problems. The team bankrupted after that race.
Just one championship point with Footwork
For the rest of the season, Verstappen did some test drives for Benetton and Ligier. There was no place for him in those teams for 1996, so he joined Footwork Arrows. He competed full season with the Hart-powered Footwork FA17 and finished just four of 16 races. His best result was the sixth place at the Argentine Grand Prix. With one point from that race, he finished 16th in the final championship classification.
Unsuccessful year with Tyrrell
At least he earned a point in 1996, because in the following two seasons, he didn't score any points. In 1997, Verstappen was driving for Tyrrell. With the underpowered Cosworth engine, his best result was 8th place at the wet streets of Monaco. Before the end of the year, the team was purchased by the British American Tobacco and the new owners sold Verstappen's seat to another driver.
Max came to the world in 1997
Jos Verstappen didn't score any points in the 1997 Formula One season, but despite that, it was a year to remember, because he and his wife Sophie Kumpen celebrated the happiest moment in their lives: the birth of their son Max. He was born on September 30th, 1997.
Honda's executives changed their plans
In the first part of the 1998 season, Verstappen had some tests for Benetton and talked with other teams. He joined Stewart Ford in the eighth round of the season, as a replacement for Jan Magnussen. Jos participated in nine races, with 12th place at the French Grand Prix as the best result.
During 1999, Verstappen was the test driver for the Honda Formula One project. He joined Honda with old Tyrrell friends Rupert Manwaring and Harvey Postlethwaite. Honda was planning to enter Formula One with its own team in 2000, but after Postlethwaite died of a heart attack in April 1999, the Japanese manufacturer changed the plans. They decided to become just an engine supplier for F1 teams, without their own team, so Verstappen was again without a seat.
Two seasons with Arrows
The things get better in 2000 when Jos (re)joined Arrows F1 Team, now with the new Supertec V10 engine. The new car was still unreliable but its speed allowed Verstappen and his teammate Pedro de la Rosa to fight for the points. Verstappen finished fifth at the Canadian Grand Prix and fourth at the Italian Grand Prix, scoring five points to finish 12th in the championship standings.
In 2001, Verstappen stayed with Arrows. The Supertec engines were replaced by Asiatech V10 units. The engine was more reliable but less competitive, so Verstappen reached just one finish in the points when he was sixth at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Formula 1 farewell in the Minardi's car
For 2002, Jos Verstappen already had an agreement with Arrows but he was dropped and replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Verstappen spent a year without racing and returned one more time to Formula One in 2003, joining the European Minardi team. Driving for the team from the back of the grid, Verstappen's biggest success was 9th place at the Canadian Grand Prix. His last Formula One race was the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2003.
South-African victory in the A1 GP Series
Two years without racing followed and then, Verstappen was chosen to represent the Netherlands in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix competition. The season started in September 2005 and finished in April 2006. Verstappen participated in all 22 races to place his home country at 7th place in the final standings. He scored one victory at a street course in Durban, South Africa. He didn't return to the team for another season because of payment issues.
The Dutch trio conquered Le Mans
When everybody considered that his career was over, Jos Verstappen shined out in the endurance racing in 2008. He joined the Van Merksteijn Motorsport to drive the LMP2 class #34 Porsche RS Spyder in the Le Mans Series and at 24 hours of Le Mans.
Jos was partnered by team owner Peter Van Merksteijn Sr. and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Verstappen and Van Merksteijn had won four of five races in the Le Mans Series to take both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles in LMP2 class. The team was victorious at Catalunya, Spa, Nurburgring and Silverstone, but the highlight of the season was the class victory at the Le Mans 24-hour race. The Dutch trio finished 10th overall and first in class, seven laps ahead of nearest rivals.
Last race with former champion and rival Jacques Villeneuve
Jos Verstappen returned to Le Mans a year later to drive an LMP1 prototype for the Aston Martin Racing team alongside Anthony Davidson and Darren Turner. They finished 13th overall and 11th in the class. It wasn't Verstappen's last race because he appeared at Baku GT City Challenge in 2012, driving the BMW Z4 GT3 for Vita4One team, together with the former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve. They finished sixth.
The two big stars of Formula 1 racing
Jos Verstappen, nicknamed Jos the Boss or Jos Grindbak, was the main character not only in the motorsport stories but also in the celebrity gossip articles because of a few accidents and assault accusations during his racing career and in the post-racing period. From 2016 onwards, he would appear in the news mostly as the father of the new Formula 1 superstar Max Verstappen.