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Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, 26, first entered the F1 paddock as a teenage prodigy who was making a lot of noise in the junior categories. Son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, Max earned his first drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015. At a tender age of 17, the Dutchman became the youngest ever F1 driver to start a Grand Prix at the 2015 Australian GP. Since then, Verstappen has not looked back and became an impeccable force in Formula 1. Hailing from the Netherlands, Verstappen has become the country’s first-ever Grand Prix winner and F1 world champion. However, he also has Belgian heritage. As of January 2024, Verstappen is a three-time F1 champion, having securing three consecutive titles from 2021 to 2023. Driving for Red Bull Racing, the 26-year-old stands third in the list of drivers with most race wins at 54. Only Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher are ahead of Verstappen at 103 and 91 wins respectively. Verstappen surpassed Ayrton Senna (41), Alain Prost (51), and Sebastian Vettel (53) in terms of wins tally in his record-breaking 2023 season. The Dutch driver won a staggering 19 Grands Prix in 2023 and also scored the highest number of points (575), any F1 driver has ever scored in a season.

Racing Career – Max Verstappen’s F1 journey from Prodigy to Champion

Back in 2014, Verstappen was racing in the European Formula 3 championship besides some other single seater racing series. During this time, he got an offer from the Mercedes F1 team to join their driver development program. Around the same time, Verstappen and his team including his father were also negotiating with Red Bull Racing’s Helmut Marko for an F1 seat. Verstappen had a FP1 session outing at the 2014 Japanese GP with Toro Rosso, which made him the youngest driver to have driven on an F1 race weekend. The Austrian team then offered him a seat at their junior team Toro Rosso for the 2015 season. He impressed as a Red Bull prodigy in his debut season and that also earned him a mid-season promotion in 2016 to the senior Red Bull team. And the Dutch champion did his best to capitalize on that. Driving in his first race for Red Bull, Verstappen won the 2016 Spanish GP, becoming the youngest-ever race winner in F1. Since then, Verstappen has been breaking records and creating history with Red Bull. Besides F1, the 26-year-old has expressed his ambitions to race elsewhere in other motorsport categories such as GT racing and Endurance racing. Currently, he has not participated in any competitive GT or endurance events. Earlier in 2023, Verstappen had highlighted his wish to drive at the 24 Hours of Le Mans someday. Even veteran champion Fernando Alonso backed Verstappen that he could do it and would himself love to accompany and team up with the Dutchman. About his F1 training, Verstappen keep a close support group that initially involved his father Jos a lot during his junior racing days. Bradley Scanes was his personal trainer since 2019. However, the duo parted ways at the end of 2023 on amicable terms. Now, Rupert Manwaring is Verstappen’s new personal trainer.

Verstappen’s love for eSports

Max Verstappen is a huge fan of eSports and online racing. Verstappen describes himself as avid sim racer and often participates in online racing events. In 2023, the Red Bull driver took part in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was his e-racing outfit Team Redline. While the event did not go as planned due to server issues, Verstappen continues to participate in similar events. In 2024, Verstappen had already driven and won an iRacing event of the Virtual 24 Hours of Daytona. Besides competing in events, Verstappen also does sim racing casually and streams it on Twitch with his Team Redline mates. Apart from racing, the 26-year-old also loves to play FIFA on his gaming console. The Dutchman is one of the highest ranked FIFA players in the world. In his early days with Red Bull, Verstappen was very active playing FIFA on PlayStation even during race weekends.


Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen’s most fierce rivalry has been with Lewis Hamilton. Even before the epic 2021 season, the duo has skirmishes on track with each other several times. Japan 2016 and Bahrain 2018 is classic case in point of the same. Then came the 2021 championship battle which served fans with the peak tension of the Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry. There was hardly a race when the two drivers did not battle each other, either strategically or collided and crashed with each other. Neither of them yielded till the season’s end and them going into the Abu Dhabi title decided equal on points summarizes how closely matched they were. While the finale ended in a huge controversy in a late safety car restart, Verstappen had done everything throughout the season to hold his nerve and clinch his maiden world championship. The 2021 season was the last time Verstappen and Hamilton have battled in equal cars on equal terms with each other. While there have been some tussles and collisions in 2022-23, Hamilton and Mercedes have dropped off in performance, while Verstappen and Red Bull just bolstered their dominant form.

Charles Leclerc

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc had a rivalry since their karting days. The famous “Inchident” dialogue from Leclerc is still a big meme that signifies the duo’s rivalry. In F1, the first tussles during the 2019 season, battling for the win in Austria. It was a nail-biting affair that gave Max the victory. Following that the duo has often battled with other, without any major incidents. It was the 2022 season when it seemed like both drivers could have a championship battle. They had some thrilling battles in Bahrain and in the races after, but eventually Ferrari faltered with their car and Verstappen did not have as many as battles with Leclerc as one may have hoped for.

Daniel Ricciardo

Verstappen was teammates with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull for 3 years. The duo were very evenly matched and Max often was an aggressive driver in those formative years. While initially Ricciardo was clearly the better driver, Verstappen got on terms with him during 2017-18. Both drivers had some good moments too getting race wins and podiums for Red Bull. But, the rivalry heated up when they started having collisions. The 2018 Azerbaijan GP saw the worst of the Verstappen-Ricciardo tussle. The Honey Badger crashed into the back of his Dutch teammate’s car and they both had to retire from that race. Post that Ricciardo left Red Bull in 2019 and only returned as a reserve driver before joining their sister team AlphaTauri (now Visa Cash App RB) midway in 2023. The Australian driver aims to get back to his role as Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull as a “fairytale finish” to his career, and may resume this rivalry too.

Battles against Teammates

Verstappen has had many teammates besides Ricciardo whom he has beaten ruthlessly during each of their stints at Red Bull. Pierre Gasly got demoted from the team after just 12 races in 2019. Alex Albon too only lasted for one and half seasons. Sergio Perez has been Verstappen’s #2 driver for three years but has not been able to match him. In 2023, he arguably suffered his worst season relative to how impeccable Max dominated with 19 race wins.

Salary, Endorsements

Max Verstappen is currently the highest paid driver on the F1 grid. According to Forbes, Verstappen earned about $70 million in total in 2023, which consisted of $45 million salary and a $25 million bonus from Red Bull. His current Red Bull contract runs till the end of 2028. While Verstappen aims to race in other categories besides F1 too, he seems to be in no hurry in moving away from Red Bull and may stay beyond 2028 as long as they remain a top team. However, the Dutchman has clauses in his contract to move away from the Austrian team if they are not able to provide him with a championship-worthy car. Before 2021, there was chatter of Max reportedly looking to activate his clause and look to switch teams if Red Bull did not provide him with a competitive car. For the time being, he is the highest paid driver in F1, contracted to Red Bull for the long term. This boosted Verstappen’s net worth to an approximate $90 million. The Dutch driver also has several endorsement deals and sponsors. Brands such as Viaplay, Heineken, Jumbo, Ziggo, G-Star RAW, and EA Sports often collaborate and feature Verstappen in their promotional campaigns.

Retirement Plans

Verstappen has expressed his wish to retire early from F1. While, the three-time champion is still 26 and is hitting his peak form, he stated in 2023 several times that he may not hesitate to retire by the time he turns 30. This also roughly coincides with the end of his current contract with Red Bull in 2028. So, it is possible that Verstappen is serving his last contract in F1 and may hang up his F1 overalls after 2028. Still, the way he is dominating it is difficult to see the Dutchman go away from F1 so soon. However, his reasoning to go away from F1 has some racing ambitions too. Verstappen wishes to prove his mettle in other racing categories such as GT and Endurance racing. Thus, he may be planning to compete in events like Le Mans and Daytona if he retires early from F1.