In the name of Papa Verstappen
Max Verstappen, with his father and former Formula 1 driver Jos. getty

Rafa Nadal says that some of the methods used by Toni, his uncle and coach, while sculpting one of the best tennis players of all time would become unbearable for most children. When one looks into the eyes of Max Verstappen, one immediately senses that this 23-year-old boy faced, as a child, even more extreme situations than the one he experienced this Sunday in Monza, in the accident he suffered with Lewis Hamilton and that he is called to mark another turning point in Formula 1 history.


The collision between the Mercedes and the Red Bull in the first variant of the Italian circuit is nothing more than the logical consequence of the equality that exists in a contest dominated the last five years by the brand of the star. The entry into play of the new regulations with a view to next season made most teams abandon the development of the cars of the current year to the first change, to focus their efforts on those of 2022. For that slot they are He put in the energetic team, which for the first time since 2013 is seen with real options of proclaiming itself champion, at the hands of Verstappen, the beginning and end of Red Bull in its crusade against Mercedes and Hamilton.

The Dutch and the British share many things, but differ in many others. “They are both driven by great motivation, but of a different nature. While Lewis wants to win at any cost for a question of ego, to be able to demonstrate that he is the best of all, Max does it, at the same time, to make his father happy. So that he is proud of him, ”says someone who has been sharing the red buffalo garage with the current championship leader.

Jos Verstappen’s influence on his son was always decisive, but unlike what happens with Hamilton, who little by little was moving Anthony away from decisions related to the professional field, in the case of Mad Max it still is a lot. The coldness of the boy’s gaze is consistent with his statements and non-verbal communication. When you identify a goal, anything that gets in the way must be removed from the equation. That is the creed of Jos, an omnipresent figure for the Hasselt driver since his time in karting, where the father went on to profess to his son that “hard-core love”, as defined by David Coulthard.

Pedro de la Rosa was Jos’s partner in Arrows, in the 2000 World Cup. Spanish speaks wonders of the Dutch as a neighbor of the workshop. “He was always face to face, it was nothing political, and the problems we had always were solved from you to you,” says the former pilot by phone. Apart from running with him, De la Rosa also lived sub evaporation when he hung up the monkey (2003). Disappeared from paddock, and from that moment he focused exclusively on his son, who was six years old at the time and was already starting karting. “Jos had an obsession, which was Max’s preparation, but he never told him how good he was. I remember him telling me: ‘It seems to be going well, but you know how difficult it is to get there.’ And then I would talk to karting people and they would tell me that Max was the biggest phenomenon of the last decade ”, adds the Catalan, who defines his former colleague as“ an extreme guy in every way ”.

Verstappen's Red Bull over Hamilton's Mercedes in Sunday's Monza crash
Verstappen’s Red Bull over Hamilton’s Mercedes in Sunday’s Monza crashMATTEO BAZZI / EFE

During Verstappen’s childhood, the father took care of everything that surrounded the competition, looked for the best equipment and prepared it – in karting that plays a decisive role. The son rolled and competed, rolled and competed. They shared journeys in a van that traveled about 100,000 kilometers a year, through Holland, Belgium and central Europe. The bond that was created between them was as powerful as Jos’s desire to unleash Max’s full potential. And the shortest route he found to that was to regularly push him out of his comfort zone.

“In many races that he won, it prevented him from overtaking according to which curves or points on the circuit, so he had to look for alternatives. The idea was to make it all the more difficult for him to find a way to solve the problem, ”Jos said in an interview with Red Bull. That is the kindest aspect, but there were also events that were less so. “Max was about eight or nine years old, and we went karting. It was winter and it was freezing. He told me that he did not want to go out because his fingers were numb and they hurt a lot. In the end, I got him out, ”Jos recalls. “My fingers hurt a lot. I did those things to toughen myself up, “said Max, who always lived under the threat of going home if he didn’t empty himself on the track.

The temperament that has already been seen several times in Verstappen is inherited directly from Jos, someone capable of leaving him lying in a service area after losing the KZ2 World Cup, in 2012. The truth is that Max’s mother [Sophie Kumpen, otra reconocida piloto de karts], was circulating with another car a few minutes behind. “It matters little now, because in the end my father turned around and picked me up,” says Verstappen.

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