The lowdown on Max Verstappen
2017: 6th place. Born: 30/9/1997.
Max Verstappen has already shown he’s undoubtedly a future champion – will this be the year he fulfils that immense potential?
He launched himself on the circuit with victory on his Red Bull debut in 2016 after an early-season promotion from Toro Rosso, becoming F1’s youngest winner at the age of 18.
However, his aggressive tactics angered some of his fellow drivers – including team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – and their concerns led to a new rule banning moving under braking.
Last season heralded a more mature approach, and the son of ex-F1 racer Jos Verstappen left his teens behind with victory in Malaysia’s final F1 race a day after his 20th birthday.
His relationship with Ricciardo appears to be more solid – the Australian accepted the Dutch driver’s rapid apology after their calamitous collision at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
After seven retirements in his opening 14 races – four due to mechanical errors – Verstappen followed up his Sepang win with P2 in Japan and victory in Mexico.
His scintillating performance in Texas won the hearts of racing fans, though he let himself down with some ill-advised angry remarks to officials after being demoted to fourth when it was ruled he left the track in overtaking Kimi Raikkonen.
Verstappen has enjoyed an unprecedented rise since debuting for Toro Rosso in 2015 at the age of 17, having been the team’s test driver the previous year while also racing in Formula Three.
Some said he was too young, too inexperienced, but he silenced his doubters with a starring maiden season, wowing with his race craft, blend of maturity and zealous approach to passing. He notched points in 10 of 19 races, including two fourth-placings.