Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen was born to be fast and comes from a racing heritage.
The son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen and Belgian kart champion Sophie Kumpen, Max took the karting world by storm, winning national, international and world titles. Then, having reached the required age he moved into single-seaters for the 2014 season, contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
Against more experienced opposition Max won 10 races on his way to third place overall in the championship. He had, however, planned his next move long before the conclusion of his debut single-seater season and 16-year-old Max joined the Red Bull Junior Team in August and was announced as a 2015 race driver for Toro Rosso.
After three FP1 appearances in 2014 and a short winter testing programme, Max made his Grand Prix debut at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, aged 17 years and 166 days – the youngest driver in the history of the sport. Two weeks after that he grabbed another record, becoming F1’s youngest points-scorer with seventh place in Malaysia.
A second season with Red Bull’s junior squad began in style with three points finishes from his first three races. The talent to challenge for bigger prizes was clear and ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Max was drafted into the Red Bull Racing line-up. His impact was nothing short of spectacular. He qualified third and drove an immaculate race to claim his first F1 victory and became the sport’s youngest race winner – despite confessing he was not entirely sure what all the buttons on the steering wheel did.
Over the course of the following four seasons Max firmly established himself as a major star of the sport and a regular race winner. Alongside his rise, the Team journeyed their way back to sustained competitiveness, with Max emerging as a genuine title contender.
In 2020 he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, taking victories at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The victories were supported by remarkable consistency, as he finished on the podium 11 times from the 12 races in which he saw the chequered flag.
With momentum building and with the bulk of the 2020 car carried over to the following year, the stage was set for Max to make his first serious bid for championship glory in 2021. The Dutchman took his first win of the season with a battling second round drive at Imola and three races later he put in a faultless performance in Monte Carlo to take his first Monaco Grand Prix win. The victory in the Principality also propelled him to the top of the Championship standings for the first time in his F1 career.
A third victory of the campaign arrived at the French Grand Prix before delivering a brace of crushing wins at the team’s home circuit, the Red Bull Ring, home of the Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix.
A tough winless spell in mid-season was ended after the summer break when Max won the half-points Belgian Grand Prix and then delighted his home crowd with a dominant win at Zandvoort as the Dutch Grand Prix returned for the first time since 1985. A brilliant US Grand Prix win in October was followed a week later by Max’s third Mexican Grand Prix victory in four years and he looked set to march to title glory.
The Team’s rivals managed to find a significant performance boost, however, and over the following three rounds, the Dutchman’s chief rival, Lewis Hamilton, roared back into contention. In the end, after 21 rounds and almost 23,000 laps raced, the fight went down to the wire at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Max level on points with Hamilton.
The battle was epic, highly charged, and hard fought, but following a late safety car period Max closed in and overtook Hamilton on the last lap of the race to take the race lead, victory and the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title.