It was perhaps inevitable Max Verstappen would grow up to be a racing driver. Both his parents were renowned for their speed on the racetrack. Verstappen’s mother Sophie Kumpen competed in the World Karting Championship, while his father Jos Verstappen started over 100 Grands Prix in a Formula 1 career that lasted between 1994 and 2003.
With such an impressive pedigree, it was no surprise Max displayed the same natural talent behind the wheel and he was fast-tracked into Formula 1 at a young age. After graduating from karting in 2013, Max completed one season of car racing before he was snapped up by Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri).
Verstappen made his Formula 1 debut at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix aged 17, setting the record for the youngest ever driver to compete in the sport. Although he retired from his first race with an engine problem, he grabbed a points finish next time out in Malaysia and incredibly scored two fourth places that year in a car that was not the most competitive on the grid.
Just four races into his second season, Verstappen was promoted to the senior Red Bull team and to the astonishment of those watching around the world, he took victory in his first race for his new squad.
His 2016 Spanish Grand Prix triumph meant the 18-year-old was the youngest driver – and first Dutchman – to ever win a Formula 1 race. He beat the previous record held by four-time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel (who had won in Italy in 2008 at the age of 21).
Although Verstappen was born in Belgium, he grew up in a town close to the Dutch border and has always represented the Netherlands on the global stage. His fans love his exciting, combative attitude on-track and wherever he races there is always a large contingent of Dutch enthusiasts, wearing their trademark orange t-shirts and caps, supporting their hero. You can expect many of them will descend on the new Jeddah street circuit later this year to cheer on their compatriot in the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
With more than 100 starts, the 23-year-old will be one of the leading contenders for victory, not only in the race in Jeddah, but the overall Drivers’ World Championship too. By committing to the team until the end of 2023, Verstappen and Red Bull are a powerful combination that will continue to thrill fans of Formula 1 for many years to come.