[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] MAX VERSTAPPEN: F1 SUPERSTAR

At just 20 years of age, Max Verstappen is an F1 superstar.

The precocious Dutchman has begun only his fourth year at the pinnacle of motorsport, his second full season with top team Red Bull Racing, and is already one of the sport’s biggest box office draw cards.

Willing Verstappen on is a sea of orange, the tens of thousands of Dutch fans who follow him throughout the year – especially in Europe.

They adore him for his vast natural talent, his razor-sharp overtakes, and his relatability in what he likes doing both in and out of the car.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Winning races in Formula One. [which] also makes me happy is winning games on FIFA. It all just depends on what kind of things you’re looking at.”

Of course, Verstappen has racing in his blood, his father Jos “The Boss” Verstappen a major Dutch F1 hero in the mid-1990s.

And while Jos didn’t win a race, he has helped to shape his son’s career at all levels – not just in terms of his racing style behind the wheel. But also in sidestepping the issues that befell him, of which Max is only too aware. Just ask him the best piece of advice his father ever gave him.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Stay with two feet on the ground. Otherwise he will make sure I will be. So… [Laughs].

Verstappen arrived in F1 with Toro Rosso in 2015, following just one season in European Formula 3. He also won the prestigious F3 masters event, and World and European Karting Championships.

Fast forward to 2018, and Verstappen has committed himself to Red Bull for the next three years in a big money deal, worth a reported $30 million US dollars per year – putting him in a similar league to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

And there’s no doubt his best years are still ahead of him.

SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTIAN HORNER,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, RED BULL RACING:
“On the big stage, when the pressure's on, he has that ability to deliver and I think he's still evolving and developing as a driver and as a young man and what's exciting about Max is the potential of where he could be in a few years time.”

But a superstar talent and salary needs a superstar car, and on that, Red Bull Racing still has a lot of work to do – Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo unable to challenge for the podium in Melbourne.

That may change as F1 heads to Barcelona in May for the Spanish Grand Prix and the start of the European season.

But everyone’s waiting for the moment when the full power of Verstappen’s talent can be unleashed from the front of the grid.

SOUNDBITE (English) HEIKKI KOVALAINEN,
F1 DRIVER, 2007-2013:
“He’s unbelievably good. I think what I see, and I can see his driving and his attitude and his approach is really excellent. At the moment just the car is just not quick enough. It's as simple as that. If he was in a Ferrari or a Mercedes, he'd be up there.”

And while Verstappen may have shunned both marques for the time being, Red Bull needs to start winning… and soon.

… because there’s one thing the Dutchman won’t stand for.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Losing. Just keep it simple. Losing for everything. It’s the worst.”