Max Verstappen begins Dutch GP weekend with one honour already in the bag

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen salutes the crowd. Imola April 2022.

Max Verstappen clutches the P1 trophy and champagne on the podium. Imola April 2022.

Max Verstappen already has one honour stashed away as he prepares to try and win the Dutch Grand Prix for a second consecutive year.

On the eve of his home race weekend at Zandvoort the reigning Drivers’ World Champion, and champion-elect for 2022, was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a royal decoration.

The 24-year-old Red Bull driver received the honour from the Netherlands’ Minister for Sport, Conny Helder, in the presence of some of his family members and close friends.

Helder, as quoted on Verstappen’s official website, said: “It takes a lot more than just talent to become a champion. Many years of hard work, of pushing and persevering.

“With this, you are a great inspiration to many. And in the end, as the first Dutchman ever [to do so], you drove to the Formula 1 world title. What an amazing achievement. With this, you put the Netherlands on the map.”

Verstappen said: “It is a great honour to receive this appointment. I am very thankful to my family and close friends for their support, from my very first racing years until now.

“I also want to thank Red Bull and my personal sponsors. Without all this support I would not be where I am today. In addition, I want to thank my fans worldwide and in particular the Orange Army.

“Their encouragements time after time are overwhelming and it is incredible to see so many Dutch people involved in the sport. I am looking forward immensely to my home race this coming weekend, the Dutch Grand Prix.”

In conjunction with the honour, Verstappen was also offered licence No 1 by the national motorsport federation (KNAF).

KNAF president Jan de Wit said during the award ceremony: “What an achievement, what an impressive career and what an ambassador you are for our country and our sport.

“We therefore thought it would be appropriate to make this small gesture.”

Verstappen has also revealed he will have a special helmet design at Zandvoort as a tribute to his father, Jos.

“I thought this year would be a great moment to show my appreciation for all the efforts my dad made for me since I was a little kid, to bring me where I am today, winning the World Championship,” said Verstappen.

“So we made a new version of Jos’ old helmet design. You can see it coming through in my helmet and both have my dad’s original logo on the back. It’s very personal for me as it’s really special to be able to drive with this design.

“We thought it would be a great idea to bring this back alive for Zandvoort and I hope all fans, also from my dad back in the day, will appreciate it. I hope you will love it too.”