Max Verstappen claimed his first F1 world championship title by overtaking rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen was able to catch and pass Hamilton after a late safety car restart.
Although his victory could be in doubt after Hamilton's Mercedes team protested the results, saying that the FIA did not follow its own procedure, by allowing only the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves rather than the entire field. The decision resulted in Verstappen being positioned on Hamilton's tail when racing resumed for the final lap.
Long Standing Rivalry: Verstappen became the first Dutch champion in history to win a title after finishing in third place for the season championship in both 2019 and 2020. The driver has had an increasingly intense rivalry with Lewis, who has won three straight championships before this race.
As the rivalry grows, viewership for Formula One races have increased, along with the stock price of publicly traded Liberty Formula One Group FWONA.
Only 24 years old, Verstappen has already broke several age-based Formula One records, and could be one of the brightest stars in a sport that continues attracting new fans.
Here are five things you might not know about Max Verstappen.
Son of a Formula One Racer: Verstappen is the son of Dutch racing driver Jos Verstappen. Throughout his racing career, the elder Verstappen raced in 107 Formula One races. Verstappen reached the podium twice in his Formula One career, with third place finishes. Along with Formula One racing, Verstappen also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of the Dutch team.
Verstappen’s dad put him in a go-kart at the age of four, and he began racing several years later.
Max’s mom was also a professional driver, giving him two parents with racing in their blood and helping him develop an early love for the sport.
Driver’s License At 18: Despite racing Formula One cars at the age of 17, Verstappen did not get his driver’s license until the age of 18. Verstappen admits that his driving instructor was strict and that he tried to bribe him with some hats and t-shirts, but they weren’t accepted. Formula One now requires its drivers to be at least 18 years of age.
Likes Call of Duty, FIFA Video Games: During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Formula One races were cancelled, and the season was put on hold. This led to many of the drivers finding new ways to interact with their fans. Verstappen was one of several drivers who joined the video game streaming platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon.com Inc AMZN. Verstappen played racing games with other drivers and also played and streamed “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a game from Activision Blizzard ATVI.
Verstappen also loved to play the soccer video games in the FIFA series from Electronic Arts EA. Verstappen, who has the gamer tag crgboy007 online, was ranked 21st in the world in 2019 and 31st in the world in 2018 for FIFA Ultimate Team game mode.
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Chose Dutch Title Over Belgian: Born in Hasselt, Belgium, Verstappen was the son of a Belgian mother and Dutch father. Over time, Verstappen shifted to his Dutch heritage thanks to his karting career, along with time spent with his father and feeling more Dutch.
“I actually only lived in Belgium to sleep, but during the day I went to the Netherlands and had my friends there too. I was raised as a Dutch person and that’s how I feel,” Verstappen said.
At the age of 18, Verstappen officially selected Dutch nationality as his preference.
Broke Records Early: Just over the age of 17 (17 years old and 3 days), Verstappen took part in practice at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. The participation made Verstappen the youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend.
Verstappen made his driver debut at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 17 years and 166 days old. Verstappen broke the race debut record by almost two years.
Verstappen broke the record as the youngest driver to win a Formula One event when he finished first in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen was 18 years old and 228 days old when he won.
Other early records Verstappen won and still holds are: youngest driver to start a race, youngest driver to score points, youngest driver to lead a lap, youngest driver to have the fastest lap and youngest driver to have a podium finish.
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