Max’s F3 boss knew he would become F1 World Champion

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen smiling as he celebrates taking the 2021 title. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, smiling as he is hoisted up by team members to celebrate 2021 title victory. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

By winning the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship, Max Verstappen delivered on the belief of his former F3 team boss Frits van Amersfoort.

Verstappen was very much fast-tracked into the world of Formula 1, going from a P3 finish in the 2014 European Formula 3 Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing to lining up on the Formula 1 grid for the following season with Red Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso.

Graduating to the main Red Bull team in 2016, Verstappen for years had been regarded as a future champion in the waiting, with the chance to deliver on that hype finally arriving in 2021.

He did not disappoint, snatching the World Championship from Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In doing so, he had achieved what Van Amersfoort had always believed was in his compatriot’s future.

In an interview with RacingNews365.com, he said: “During that season [2014] I said Max would one day become World Champion.

Max Verstappen competing in Formula 3. Germany, August 2014.
Max Verstappen competing in Formula 3 for Van Amersfoort Racing. Germany, August 2014.

“There was no doubt about that.”

Despite still only being 24, Verstappen is now very much a veteran of Formula 1 with seven full seasons of experience under his belt.

But Van Amersfoort does not see much change in Verstappen’s style between Formula 3 and the present day, explaining perhaps the only change is he is now “driving with his head a little more”.

“Max drove in F3 exactly the way he drives now,” Van Amersfoort explained.

“He hasn’t really changed in the period between then and now. He may have started driving with his head a little more, but he will always push. Max goes to the limit and stops only when he’s at the finish.

 

“The actions Max made with us in 2014 are similar to the actions he shows in F1 now. Only then, he drove in front of a much smaller audience and the outside world didn’t see it.

“Now he does it in front of millions of people, but Max was ready to enter Formula 1 after two races in Formula 3.

“The man is just so beyond talented. In his feeling [for the car], but also mentally. That paid off last season.”

Verstappen has chosen to race with the number ‘1’ on his Red Bull RB18 in 2022, exercising the champion’s right, which means his traditional number 33 will be on the shelf for at least one season.

 

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