Max Verstappen was the youngest Formula 1 driver ever (17 years, 166 days) when he debuted in the opening race of the 2015 Formula One Champonship in Australia, driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Four years later, he's already an accomplished F1 driver with eight victories on his account.
Raised in the racing family
Max Emilian Verstappen was born on September 30, 1997, in Hasselt, Belgium, but he competes under the Dutch flag even though he grew up in Belgium and lived there until 2015 when he moved to Monaco.
His father is a former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen and he is not the only former racer in the family. Max’s mother Sophie Kumpen competed in karting while his uncle Anthony Kumpen competed in endurance racing and in European NASCAR.
Verstappen won Karting World Championship
As a kid, Max started to race in karting and from the beginning his results were astonishing. In the first couple of years, Verstappen won almost every race he entered and by the age of 7, he raced at the national and international level, again with a huge success. Verstappen won numerous trophies over the years before he finally became the European and later the world champion in 2013.
Formula racing debut
For the first time Max experienced car racing, testing various Formula Renault cars at different circuits, which was a good preparation for the proper racing debut in the inaugural Florida Winter Series, in which he scored four wins, but soon Verstappen signed with Van Amersfoort team to compete in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2014.
His rookie season was a really good one. Max took his first podium finish at Silverstone, in a third race of the season, then won the race at Hockenheim which was his sixth appearing and confirmed that he has enormous potential. However, that was just a beginning. Verstappen won six races in a row, at Norisring and Spa, later added another one at Nurburgring before finishing 3rd in the Drivers’ Championship, behind Esteban Ocon and Tom Blomqvist.
Max became Red Bull's protege
His performances attracted attention of many Formula 1 teams but Max decided to join Red Bull’s junior drivers program which proved to be an excellent decision. He was a test driver for Toro Rosso team at three F1 Grand Prix races in the second half of 2014 season before he got a chance to drive in the Formula 1 World Championship in 2015.
Toro Rosso had an uncut gem and the decision to give place in the prominent competition to a teenager raised the eyebrows of many, not just in Formula 1. Luckily, Helmut Marko, a talent chief in Red Bull machinery, exactly knew what he was doing and Max soon confirmed that Marko was right.
Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso
Verstappen went through the intensive preparations for his first year in Formula 1 and despite having some accidents (caused by the lack of experience and his big wish to prove that he deserves a place in the series) Max proved that he deserves to be there. The Dutch teenager scored points in 10 out of 19 races that year, with 4th place at Hungaroring and the Circuit of the Americas as the season highlights.
He finished 12th overall and won three FIA awards – Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year, and Action of the Year. Verstappen’s fearless driving style, unexpected and unpredictable moves made a hero out of him, not just in Belgium and the Netherlands but among many Formula 1 fans all over the world.
Max Verstappen never was really affected by criticism
However, some Max’s colleagues and former drivers weren’t impressed by his behaviour on the track. It’s true that Verstappen isn't always as cautious as he is supposed to be, but on the other hand, his arrival had also shaken up Formula 1 and reminded us how F1 was much more exciting before than it is today.
In 2016, everybody already knew what they can expect from Verstappen and he was treated with more respect on the track. The beginning of the year went well for a Dutch teenager who scored points in the opening three races but retired from the race in Russia when he collided with his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Surprising move to Red Bull and maiden F1 Grand Prix win
After the Russian Grand Prix, Helmut Marko decided to make a surprising move. Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull team while Daniil Kvyat was sent back to Toro Rosso. Many were surprised with that decision but Marko again confirmed that he has an amazing intuition. In his debut with a new team, Max won the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya Circuit, becoming the youngest driver who has won the Formula 1 race.
The stream of success continued later in the season when Max collected six more podiums, failing to pick points just two times. Verstappen confirmed that he can handle the pressure and proved that the criticism does not affect him too much, finishing fifth in the championship standings and showing that a bright future is ahead of him.
Two victories in 2017, two more in 2018
In 2017, he was on a podium in the second race of the season at Shanghai International Circuit but after that a big streak of retirements followed. In fourteen races, he recorded seven DNFs. On October 1, Max finally showed his talent by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Three rounds later, he won again, scoring his third F1 victory in the Mexican Grand Prix. He finished sixth in the points, behind Mercedes pair, Ferrari pair and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
In 2018, Max stayed in the #33 Red Bull car, scoring his fourth victory at the teams home track, the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The second win of the season and the fifth in a career came at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. With two podiums in the last two races (Brazil, Abi Dhabi), Max stole the fourth place in the championship from Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes).
Three F1 victories in 2019 with Honda
In 2019, Max stayed in the #33 Red Bull car, getting Honda's engine instead of Renault's. He scoredg his first win of the season and the sixth in a career at Red Bull Ring, the home race of his team. Two rounds later, Max added one more win to his account, triumphing at Hockenheimring. the third win came at the Brazilian Grand Prix.