Max and his dad Jos
I was watching a documentary on Max Verstappen and it became obvious to everyone who was involved in his early parts of his career he would reach the top and drive Formula One. A big part of Max is his dad who was an ex Formula One driver who never pushed him into the sport, but Max wanted it.
He grew up around cars so what did everyone expect.
I think this is so true as when parents try and live their lives through their kids they are not letting things happen naturally. Max's dad Jos has only been there to guide him making sure he doesn't make the same career mistakes he did and that is the way it should be. Yes the family name was known in the motor sport world already so doors would open that much easier for him creating a perfect career path.
Max grew up around the racing circuit so it was inevitable that he would end up doing something with cars whether it was with mechanics or driving. At the age of 6 he was ready for his first go kart and he practiced on a separate track away from the rest so he could learn the skills needed to compete. His dad was his mechanic and Max just enjoyed the sport. Most kids who start a sport at an early age tend to have an advantage over others who only find the sport later in life.
Max competed in the go karts and was beating kids in higher age groups and everyone knew there was something special with him. At the age of 10 he was already winning the National Championships and was attracting attention of other racing teams. His dads old team Manor Racing selected him for a seat in 2013 as they knew the family well. Max was like a family member to the team as they had seen him growing up playing in the pits as a young boy.
Christian Horner from Red Bull mentioned that Max was on their radar from 2010 at the age of 13 only. he like everyone else says age has nothing to do with talent and didn't matter if you were 12 or 50 as long as you could produce performances. In 2014 max joined the Red Bull Junior team after also considering offers from Mercedes.
Once he joined them he was in their development program and one performance highlighted what everyone knew. The race was at Hockenheim in pouring rain where Max was lapping 2 seconds quicker than any other driver and won convincingly. The main man at Red Bull was watching and was seriously impressed enough to offer him a seat in Formula One driving for Torro Rosso.
The FIA had introduced a Super licence and max was lucky enough to get his before the age limit had been pushed up to 18. The test at the time involved Max doing 100's of laps at a race circuit with pit stops involving no errors. The team was pushing him through before they could prevent him from racing as the law changes were imminent.
At 17 Max was the youngest Formula One driver with people asking questions. This kind of ticked him off as he had come through the ranks proving himself all the way. His dad had helped open doors, but Max had done the rest through his driving skills. It was only going to be a matter of time before he was picked up by a top racing team.
Go Kart day rivalries in Formula One now are what we have to look forward to with Le Clerc and Verstappen not the best of mates.
Driving is only part of the whole deal as you also have to show stamina and endurance so Max was sent away to a clinic in Austria and spent months before the season started training under specialists. The thought process is that a healthy body gives you a healthy mind and being tired you will make mistakes. The drivers have many functions to perform in the car through various computerized programs so they need to be at their peak fitness to perform these tasks.
Torro Rosso is basically the second string team of the Red Bull racing team where young and inexperienced drivers earn their wings. Sebbastien Vettel, Daniel Riccardo, Carlos Sainz have all come through this way and it shows what an important part this team has played in many drivers careers. The bonus of being in this team is it allows you to use the racing simulators at Red Bull where your development and progression is assessed. this simulator is in Milton Keynes at the Red Bull Racing head office so the likes of Christian Horner know exactly how you are progressing.
We see many drivers who have come through into racing over the years via the other route having a rich daddy or being connected to someone who is wealthy (Perez, Stroll and there are others). Many of these drivers do not possess special skills and will never make it to the top of the sport. These drivers are in a different class to the ones who have come through the ranks and have learnt through experience. I am happy the licences have now changed and this will prevent inferior drivers making the grade as buying your way into a sport is not the way it should happen. The likes of Torro Rosso and the Red Bull Junior team are going to be key as other teams are going to have to implement something similar from now on.