By any measure, Max Verstappen’s rise has been unprecedented. After just one - extremely successful - season in single-seaters, Red Bull shocked the Formula 1 paddock by placing him with Toro Rosso for 2015. Never had one so young, and so inexperienced, lined up on an F1 grid.
But while the move had its critics, Red Bull’s faith in the Dutchman was unquestionable. And alongside a scintillating rookie season in F3, immediately impressive F1 outings hinted that Verstappen might really be the once-in-a-generation talent Red Bull believed they had unearthed.
Max Emilian Verstappen was born in Hasselt, in the east of Belgium, on September 30, 1997. Motorsport was in his blood: father Jos was competing in Formula 1 racing at the time - in fact he raced for Tyrrell in Japan 10 days after Max’s arrival - while mother Sophie Kumpen was a successful, and extremely quick, karter.
Max followed suit. Aged four, he received his first kart. In his first three years, he won nearly every race he entered. He had soon graduated on to the national and then international scene, again with emphatic success. His ascent culminated in an outstanding 2012, as he swept all before him to become a European and world karting champion...