Michael Schumacher’s Success Played a Twisted Role in Raising Max Verstappen to Red Bull F1 Stardom

Published 07/17/2022, 4:26 AM EDT
Max Verstappen

A journey of a Formula 1 driver starts at a very tender age. A go-kart track is where they get their maiden experience and the racing love affair begins. It is here, at the stepping stone to Formula 1, where a driver needs to shine. Max Verstappen is one such driver who shone.

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The Red Bull driver clinched the F1 world title in 2021 and celebrated the glory with his father. He quickly acknowledged the ‘tough love’ from Jos Verstappen as the secret behind his success.

The Verstappen duo traveled from circuit to circuit as a unit. Even when Max won a race, his father was his harshest critic. The 50-year-old Dutchman was a former F1 driver, and racing was also second nature to him.

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Jos Verstappen made his F1 debut at the 1994 Brazilian GP and completed the driver line-up at Benetton with Michael Schumacher. The Dutchman failed to win a Grand Prix in his 9 years in the pinnacle of motorsport and called it a day in 2003 to focus on managing his son’s career.

On his Red Bull debut in 2016, Max showed his raw talent and pace as he won the Spanish GP and announced himself as the new threat in the paddock. Last year, he defeated Lewis Hamilton in a season-long fight to enter the history books. Helmut Marko shared what makes his recruit stand out from the rest.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – June 10, 2022 Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko speaks with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of the second practice session REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The Red Bull advisor said, “He had good, but also very, very difficult training in go-kart with his father. Jos was a fast Formula 1 driver, but he made many mistakes and from a tactical point of view he was also unlucky that his first teammate was Michael Schumacher.”

“But the good thing is that he has realized all these errors and has learned the right lessons from these errors. So that’s how Max emerged from the go-cart era much more mature than most others,” he concluded.

Racing genes run in Max Verstappen’s blood

The driver from Holland was only 2 years old when he started driving quad-bikes in his backyard. His father kicked off his relationship with karting at the mere age of 4. Consequently, three years later, he brought him his maiden silverware.

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This comes as no surprise as both parents of the defending world champion were racers themselves. Verstappen’s mother, Sophie Kumpen, started karting at the age of 10. Six years later, she advanced to Formula A world championship and later competed in the Karting World Championship. Notably, she defeated the former F1 driver, Giancarlo Fisichella.

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When Jos Verstappen realized his son’s exceptional talent, he parted ways with the Arrow F1 team. He left no stone unturned in helping his prodigy reach the pinnacle of motorsport and succeed. In the early days, Jos worked on the kart’s engine, while his son worked on his race craft.

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At the end of the Abu Dhabi GP, the Verstappen duo celebrated together. The world champion’s father sported the hoodie saying ‘World Champion 21, Max Verstappen’. On that day in the middle-east, the proud dad lived his dream through his son’s triumph.

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Anish Arora

193 articles

Anish Arora is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. It is the competitive nature of the sport that not only made him an adherent follower of F1, but also inspired him to start his journey as an author for the most prestigious racing series in the world. Anish initially started writing for Formula 1 during his undergrad and now is a huge fan of the 'Silver Arrows'.

Edited By: Reubyn Coutinho

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