Max Verstappen, a Belgian-Dutch racing under the Dutch flag, has just been crowned a two-time world champion. Since he started driving at Formula One, media has paid close attention to him, largely as a result of his young age. While new regulations state that the drivers must be at least 18 to drive an F1 car, Max Verstappen was just 17 years old when he began this journey.
It would be incorrect to say that he started from the bottom. When Max was 16 and in Formula 3, he scored eight wins in a year. Mercedes and Red Bull realized the young Dutchman's potential and fought to sign him under driving academies. When Max was about to sign a deal with Mercedes that offered something promising, another impressive offer popped up. Helmut Marko, the principal of Red Bull's driver academy and Red Bull Racing, suggested he test out an F1 car. In the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, he jumped on an F1 car in the first practice session. Marko proved to everyone that the decision was the right one to make.
Right after, Toro Rosso, another team partaking in Red Bull Racing, agreed to put the young man in an F1 car for the entirety of the season. While many disagreed, considering he wasn't even able to get a driver's license, for publicity reasons, the FIA agreed with Toro Rosso's decision. Just in the second race, he qualified sixth and finished seven. There was no doubt that he loved the pace of the car. He continued to break every record starting with the youngest-ever phrase.
Max spent only a year in the Toro Rosso family. Everyone knew that Red Bull was better than Toro Rosso. The team couldn't help but trust in this kid, Max was given one of the fastest cars on the grid. In his first Grand Prix in a Red Bull car, he faced an opportunity. The team's main rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed, leaving Max's teammate Daniel Ricciardo first, and Max second. Max was given a different strategy than his teammates. He then led the race and won a Grand Prix for the first time. That was impressive for everyone. What they saw left everyone shocked. They couldn't estimate this driver's talent!
The 2018 season was a bit more challenging for Max. Some mistakes were made, by both Max and the pit crew. It took a while for him to find the right driving style as many can say. In the first six races, he collided with various people. Drivers mentioned being afraid of him in their interviews. The drivers said that Max's driving was far more aggressive than it should be. Later on in the season, he was less impatient in the car and as a result, took home several wins.
It was in the next season when Red Bull developed his equipment. Clearly, Verstappen when getting used to the new car. He topped his teammate Ricciardo many times. Christian Horner, the principal of the team, favored Max against his teammate in many interviews. Ricciardo was far more experienced and didn't agree with how the team treated him. As he left the team, Max was assigned to another teammate. Which once again, changed twice until the 2021 season because his teammates couldn't compete with Max's performance. In 2021, Max finally found his ideal partner, Sergio Perez. Perez was absolutely a team player, just the person the team needed.
The 2021 season was full of controversy. Mercedes was crowned as constructors champions. Still, the seven-time world champion Hamilton and young star Verstappen always played musical chairs in the standings. Then came the last race, and its last lap. Nicolas Latifi, the driver for Williams, crashed and the safety car was deployed. This changed everything. Now, Max was behind Lewis with new tires. They pushed hard until the end. Max Verstappen was the first to see the checkered flag. The controversy was that the cars between Max and Lewis were allowed to pass the car but not the others. Some still argue on whether or not this was the right decision. Max was crowned as a world champion for the first time in Abu Dhabi.
The second time was not as shocking as the first one. Max won the world champions while the season was yet to come to a close. Given that the point difference was more than the potential difference between Max and the second in the leadership, Charles Leclerc, he has been crowned the second-time world champion in the Japanese Grand Prix. The controversy, and also ironic part of it all is how he got out of the room to sit on a red throne, in room alone with his picture on the wall. This was when he broke another record: the strangest world championship winner.
“Max Verstappen” Wikipedia, Accessed 02.11.2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Verstappen
“Eight years ago this day: Verstappen announced at Toro Rosso” GP Blod, Accessed 02.11.2022, https://www.gpblog.com/en/news/126318/eight-years-ago-this-day-verstappen-announced-at-toro-rosso.html