Since his career debut in 2015, Max Verstappen, the young driver from Hasselt, Belgium, has shown incredible speed and ferocity. Starting in F1 at the age of 17 was ground-breaking news on its own, since the FIA had tightened its grip on the entry regulations for drivers. But for Max Verstappen, the headlines kept coming. He became the youngest driver to start a race, the youngest driver to set the fastest lap, and the youngest driver to win a race. Up until the 2023 season of Formula 1, he held the record for setting consecutive wins alongside former Red Bull world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Where is the finish line for Max Verstappen in breaking records? We will never know. But for a driver who has achieved over 40 wins with a team that's proving hard to beat, those records may continue to fall rapidly. So, what has made Verstappen such a dominant force that keeps the rest of the paddock scratching their heads? Let's take a look at some of his most iconic moments.
Verstappen's first-ever season in Formula 1 was a sight to behold. At just 17 years of age, he finished 12th in the championship with 49 points, already proving to top-tier teams that the young Dutchman was race-winning material. He achieved his highest finishing position, P4, both in Hungary and in the United States. While there were some positives in his initial season, there were also some negatives, especially in Monaco, where he collided with Romain Grosjean and charged face-first into the barriers. At the time, Verstappen was adamant that this incident would give him confidence, serving as a building block of experience on his path to achieving stardom today.
Another season at Toro Rosso saw Verstappen eager to prove himself on the Red Bull sister team. However, just a few races into the season, Daniel Kvyat would be removed from his Red Bull seat, fulfilling Max Verstappen's long-term dream of driving for the Austrian team.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, chaos and carnage defined the first lap of the race as both Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Rosberg, collided, taking each other out and promoting Verstappen as the race leader. With 65 laps of the race ahead, Verstappen held off the prancing horse of Sebastian Vettel, crossing the finish line to claim his first-ever Grand Prix victory.
Reliability issues plagued the Red Bull team and Max Verstappen, but they couldn't deter the young Dutchman from securing two victories in Malaysia and Mexico. However, Max's desire to prove himself was overshadowed by his Australian teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, who outscored Max by 32 points. While it was a solid season for Red Bull, frustration was brewing within Max Verstappen.
In 2018, Verstappen aimed to demonstrate his prowess. He achieved 10 podium finishes and added two more victories to his name. Notably, he secured his first-ever win at his home track during the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull seemed to thrive in hotter track conditions, especially when compared to the struggles faced by Mercedes and Ferrari due to tire degradation. Verstappen's speed and skill were evident throughout the season, earning him a fourth-place finish in the driver's championship, his highest achievement in Formula 1 up to that point.
The 2019 season marked another significant step in Verstappen's career. With Ferrari facing developmental issues, it was up to Red Bull and Verstappen to challenge the dominant Mercedes team. While Verstappen performed admirably, securing six podium finishes and three race wins, he ended the season as the third-best driver with a total of 278 points in the drivers' championship. Max has now set his sights on the daunting task of dethroning Mercedes.
The 2020 season brought uncertainty due to the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many questioned whether Formula 1 would return, with no official start date in sight. Doubt hung in the air. However, in July, the season resumed at Verstappen's home Grand Prix in Austria. Unfortunately, it didn't start as he had hoped, as he retired from the opening race, casting doubt on his title contention. Nevertheless, Max Verstappen managed to achieve seven podium finishes and two wins during the shortened season. This time, the gap between Max and Mercedes narrowed, with Valtteri Bottas beating him by just nine points in the driver's championship.
In 2021, Formula 1 witnessed an epic showdown that will be etched in history: Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen. It became one of the sport's most iconic rivalries, filled with unforgettable and controversial moments. Perhaps the most enduring memory was the season's climax in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers were tied on points, tension reached its zenith, and a crash involving Nicolas Latifi ignited the intensity for the season's conclusion. A one-lap dash to the finish line became the decisive moment, and with a daring move, Verstappen seized the lead from Hamilton, clinching his first-ever driver's championship. However, this victory also stirred significant controversy, leaving the outcome shrouded in debate.
The 2022 season brought new regulations and increased opportunities for overtaking, ushering in a fresh challenge for the entire Formula 1 paddock. Red Bull faced challenges of their own, including early reliability issues and unexpected competition not from Mercedes but from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. However, Leclerc encountered his own share of problems, with reliability failures and on-track errors preventing him from mounting a serious challenge to Verstappen in 2022. While the two young drivers jostled for championship positions at times, it was ultimately Ferrari's misfortunes that secured Max Verstappen his second world title. His exceptional speed and consistent performance propelled him to become a two-time world champion, finishing 148 points ahead of Leclerc.
In the 2023 season, Red Bull has asserted its dominance by winning every race so far. Max Verstappen, the current championship leader, has his sights set on securing a third world championship title. This raises the question of whether we are witnessing the emergence of a new legend in the world of Formula 1. As he continues to shine, the anticipation grows regarding how many more records the talented Dutch driver can shatter.