What Did Max Verstappen Get First – His Driving License or the F1 Superlicense?

Published 01/15/2022, 11:27 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/Andres Stapff


There is no denying the fact that Max Verstappen is a “once in a generation driver”. His heroics in the 2021 F1 season have earned him a global fanbase as he became the first Dutch driver to become F1 World Champion, aged just 24. Verstappen first took the wheel of an F1 car when he was just 17, which was a world record.

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His debut for Toro Rosso invited a lot of criticism as many thought Verstappen’s inexperience would cost the team dearly. However, Red Bull being the team they are, went ahead with the risk. Helmut Marko had truly struck gold once again. Interestingly, the Dutchman never contested in the top feeder series GP2; instead, he was directly promoted to F1.

An early chance to pilot the top flight didn’t come easy to Verstappen. His age became a factor back then as well. The FIA was not willing to allow a driver less than 18 years of age into F1 but there was no hard and fast rule until that point. He was expected to at least drive in F2 for two seasons before being promoted to F1. Reports even suggest that Mercedes also offered him a seat but after a year or two in F2.

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – JULY 07: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 7, 2017 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Marko promoted Max Verstappen to F1 before he got a driving license

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The FIA even increased the minimum licensing age to 18 for an F1 debutant, a step that Marko termed “absurd” recently. At 17 years old, Max Verstappen wasn’t even old enough to drive road cars, leave alone a super license which is mandatory to drive in F1. The FIA launched a new set of rules in 2016 but it was after Max Verstappen made his debut.

Adhering to those rules, Verstappen would have failed both the age and experience criteria in 2015. Interestingly, Max said in an interview that he didn’t take his driving license theory test till he was 17 and already an F1 driver. He took the driving test two months later and passed it, as must be expected from a top-tier F1 driver.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 10: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing talks with Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko in the Paddock after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 10, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen legitimately got a super license before making his F1 debut because new rules didn’t apply to him. He made his debut with Toro Rosso in the 2015 Australian GP and registered his first win in the 2016 Spanish GP. Team boss Christian Horner and Marko promoted him to Red Bull in 2016 and the rest is history.

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Rituraj Tripathi

284 articles

Rituraj Tripathi is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. A true lover of speed, he is big fan of Lewis Hamilton and finds a future world champion in Lando Norris. Rituraj eagerly looks forward to the paddock moving to the Circuit de Monaco, and he finds Portier corner as the most exciting part of the track.

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