RACE DEBRIEF

    Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has been named the 2022 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, following his title triumph last season.

    The 24-year-old Red Bull driver – who took a dominant victory in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – claimed 10 pole positions,10 victories and finished on the podium a record 18 times last season, en route to what was the first ever Formula 1 World Championship to be won by a Dutch driver.

    READ MORE: ‘It seemed easy on the TV’ says Verstappen after dominant Imola showing

    And his achievements were enough to see him earn the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, an accolade previously held by such titans of their sports as Lionel Messi in football, Roger Federer in tennis, and F1 drivers Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – who Verstappen pipped to the title in 2021.

    Revealing his thoughts after being announced as the award’s winner, Verstappen said: “I was very happy, of course, but it was a lot of hard work and years of preparation. I’m incredibly proud. Since I was a little kid I dreamt of being on the top step and winning the championship. I said to my dad [former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen], ‘We did it, this is what we worked for all these years and now we are here, the two of us, all the memories, all the years of travelling all over Europe, going for that one goal and we achieved it.’

    Max Jos Abu Dhabi.jpg
    Verstappen celebrates with father Jos in Abu Dhabi

    “I’m the first Dutch driver to win the World Championship,” added Verstappen, “so the reaction back in Holland was amazing from all the newspapers and fans, it’s something we’ll never forget. It means a lot to be recognised for this award, one of the highest ones in the world, so I’m incredibly happy.”

    READ MORE: Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 as Ferrari falter in action-packed Imola race

    Verstappen’s achievements were recognised alongside the likes of British tennis star Emma Raducanu, who claimed the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning the 2021 US Open and Valtentino Rossi, who claimed the Laureus Sporting Icon Award after retiring from motorcycle racing at the end of last season.

    Jamaican Olympic sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.