January 25, 2022

behind the new world champion, the “SA Verstappen”

He was barely 10 years old when he already dreamed of being a Formula 1 champion and, on Sunday 12 December, in his native village of Montfort, in the south of Dutch Limburg, hundreds of inhabitants were massed in front of the screens of the local dance hall. to celebrate the victory of Max Verstappen.

Read also Max Verstappen, new king of Formula 1

It was a few kilometers away that lived Sjef, the great-grandfather of the new world champion, the one who probably inoculated the automobile virus to his descendants. He was managing a scrapyard where Frans, one of his three children, a sports fan, a tough trained in the Dutch Marines, came to have fun with his kid, Jos. This one had ” a potential “ thought those who saw him, when he was very young, driving his kart.

Pushed by his father, supported by his family and some sponsors, Jos Verstappen managed, in 1994, to join the F1 team Benetton. Teammate of Michael Schumacher, he was going to have a checkered career but, when, even clinch two third places and a great reputation in his country.

In 1997, in Maaseik, on the other side of the border, was born Max Emilian, of a Belgian mother from a family of entrepreneurs, fans, like her, of motor racing. She loves competition but will give it up to watch over her husband’s career.

Iron discipline

No coincidence: Max, too, is quickly infected with the family virus and very quickly becomes a karting champion. He climbs on a machine from the age of 5 and will dazzle with his style, his ardor and his sense of trajectory. At 7, he won his first national junior championship.

Jos, separated from his wife in 2008, takes care of everything, spends money to launch Max and dreams that he achieves the career that he was not able to fully carry out. The trainings are daily, the discipline of iron, a little less severe anyway than that which he himself knew when Frans locked him up if he had made a pilot error. Max, however, will one day confide that if no one scares him in the world of F1 it is because no one is as hard as his father.

At 16, the young native of Montfort won all the races and stopped karting to switch to Formula 3. He had, in reality, never lived in the Netherlands but acquired a Dutch driver’s license and found the funding. necessary to embark on a competition which, he believes hard as iron, will then lead him to the Grail.

He accumulates, in any case, the victories in F3 and, in March 2015, at less than 17 and a half, he competed in Melbourne for his first F1 grand prix. In May 2016, sweeping aside the criticisms of his excessive ardor and his too young age, the kid, who still shares his hotel room with his father, won his first race in Barcelona. The Red Bull team will then open its doors to him.

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