Driver Profile: Max Verstappen

NameMax Emilian Verstappen
Date of Birth30 September 1997
Place of BirthHasselt, Belgium
Car Number33, 1 (2022)
First Entry2015 Australian Grand Prix
First Win2016 Spanish Grand Prix
F1 – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen speaks to media during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Biography of F1 driver Max Verstappen

After receiving his first go-kart at the age of four, young Max won his first race, aged seven, while racing against competitors as old as 11.

At the age of nine, he was already a champion in Belgium and the Netherlands, and by 2010, Verstappen was competing in international karting. At 15, he won two European championships to go along with a World title in 2013.

Verstappen’s first taste of open-wheel racing

Verstappen stepped into a racing car for the first time on October 11, 2013, completing 160 laps in a Formula Renault car provided by Dutch team Manor MP Motorsport.

After completing several more tests, Verstappen made his racing debut in the Florida Winter Series in January 2014. He later went on to compete in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship for Van Amersfoort Racing, claiming 10 victories in total to place third in the standings.

First steps in F1

Verstappen became the youngest person in history to participate in a F1 race weekend aged 17 when he replaced Jean-Eric Vergne during first practice for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

The move was done in preparation for a full-time seat at Toro Rosso for the 2015 season. Partnering Carlos Sainz, Verstappen became the youngest driver to start a World Championship race at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 17 years 166 days.

Although the youngster ran in points-scoring positions during the race, he eventually retied due to an engine failure. He made it up for that at the following race in Malaysia, qualifying sixth and finishing seventh, breaking the record for youngster driver to score World Championship points.

His best finish of the season was fourth in Hungary, which he later matched at the United States Grand Prix. In the end his efforts were enough to win the FIA Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year and Action of the Year for his overtake on Felipe Nasr at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Verstappen stars in Red Bull debut

Verstappen began the 2016 at Toro Rosso, however, following the Russian Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that the Dutchman would swap seats with Daniil Kvyat.

Making his debut at the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen qualified fourth for the race. He quickly found himself second behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the start of the race after Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed out of the race.

With Red Bull opting to put Verstappen on a two-stop strategy rather than the same three-stop strategy as Ricciardo, he took the lead and held off Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to claim a famous maiden F1 win. In doing so, he became the youngest F1 Grand Prix winner at 18 years and 228 days.

The result kicked off a run of six top-five finishes, including four podiums, over his first eight races with Red Bull. He capped off an impressive debut campaign with the team with a sparkling drive in Brazil, when in wet conditions, he climbed from 16th with 15 laps remaining to third.

Things didn’t start smoothly in 2017, with Verstappen retiring from seven of the first 14 races. Four were due to mechanical issues, with the Dutchman involved in three opening lap collisions in Spain, Austria and Singapore.

Of the races he finished, he claimed a third-place finish in China, while his fortunes greatly improved following the Malaysian Grand Prix. He earned a second F1 win at the Sepang International Circuit, before finishing second and third in Japan and the USA respectively. Verstappen capped off the season with a third win in Mexico, finishing the season sixth in the Drivers’ Championship with 168 points.

Continued improvement at Red Bull

Verstappen was involved in incidents at each of the opening six races of the 2018 F1 season. One involved a race-long battle with teammate Ricciardo in Azerbaijan, with the Australian eventually running into the back of Verstappen.

Even Verstappen’s third-place finish in Spain wasn’t without incident, as he hit the back of Lance Stroll’s car during the Virtual Safety Car period. In Monaco, Verstappen crashed his car during the third free practice session, an incident that resembled a crash at the same spot two years earlier.

The damage forced Verstappen to start from the back of the grid for the race, a result made all the worse by the fact that Ricciardo won from pole position.

This resulted in a public reprimand from Team Principal Christian Horner and Helmut Marko. This turned Verstappen’s season around, as he collected three consecutive podium finishes, which included a win in Austria.

Verstappen claimed victory in Mexico and missed out on another at the following race in Brazil when, while leading, he collided with Force India’s Esteban Ocon, who was trying to Dunlap himself. In the end, Verstappen ended the year fourth with 249 points thanks to two wins, 11 podiums and two fastest laps.

With Red Bull now powered by Honda after ending their partnership with Renault, Verstappen began the 2019 season with 11 points finishes, including a win in Austria. After taking the chequered flag in Germany, he recorded his first career pole in Hungary, and though he could only manage a second-place finish, he added another pole and win in Brazil.

Verstappen ended the season third with 278 points thanks to three wins, nine podiums, two poles and three fastest laps.

Verstappen signed a new deal to remain with Red Bull until the end of 2023 ahead of the 2020 campaign. The season saw the Dutchman secure wins in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi, with the latter coming from pole position. In the end Verstappen ended the year third with 214 points.

Championship battle with Hamilton

The result in the 2020 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi served as a launching point for Verstappen’s World Championship bid in 2021.

Red Bull showed in pre-season testing that they were up to the challenge of battling for top honours with Mercedes. The team and Verstappen showed they meant in business at the season opener in Bahrain, with the Dutchman taking pole ahead of Hamilton.

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go to plan as Verstappen looked set for victory after overtaking Hamilton on Lap 53, however he was instructed to give the position back after going off track whilst doing so.

Despite being out-qualifed by teammate Sergio Perez at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the first time he’d start behind a teammate since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen took the lead at the start and it didn’t look back, taking the chequered flag.

Silverstone collision turns up the heat

The battle for the championship moved to the next level at Silverstone, with Verstappen starting on pole ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull entered the race having won the previous five rounds, and Verstappen was responsible for four of them.

Although the Dutchman got off the line better, he battled with Hamilton over the course of the opening lap. Unfortunately for Verstappen, he and Hamilton came together at Copse corner, resulting in the Red Bull driver hitting the barrier at 51G. He would later be assessed at a local Coventry hospital before being released, with Hamilton battling back from a penalty to take the win and the lead in the championship.

Verstappen won the race-shorted Belgian Grand Prix, earning half points given less than 75 percent of the race had been completed, to close the gap to Hamilton to three points.

He took the lead after a famous win at his home Dutch Grand Prix, while another coming together between Verstappen and Hamilton in Italy onlyadded to the growing rivalry between the two championship rivals.

Hamilton responded with four wins from the next seven races, setting up a winner-take all for the World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Title decider in Abu Dhabi

Both drivers entered the round level on points, with Verstappen claiming pole position. Hamilton took the lead into the first turn, and although he extended that gap after the first round of pit stops, the result was still in the balance in the closing stages after a Virtual Safety Car allowed Verstappen to change tyre without losing track position.

Nicholas Latifi crashed with seven laps remaining, bringing out the Safety Car, while allowed Red Bull to once again bring in Verstappen for fresh tyres, while Hamilton remained out on his old hard compound.

Race director Michael Masi allowed the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves before restarting the race with one lap remaining.

Hamilton was no match for Verstappen and his fresh rubber, as the Red Bull driver quickly found a way past, winning the race and his first F1 World Championship.

Verstappen extends with Red Bull

Ahead of the 2022 F1 World Championship, Verstappen signed a new five-year contract to remain with Red Bull.