Max Verstappen pipped to Laureus World Sportsman of the Year crown by football legend

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen arrives at the Jeddah Corniche circuit. March 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen arrives at the Jeddah Corniche circuit. March 2023

Max Verstappen has missed out on retaining the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award for 2023, with Argentina’s footballing legend Lionel Messi winning this time around.

Verstappen won the 2022 version of the award after his titanic World Championship clash with Lewis Hamilton the year beforehand, and was nominated again this time around after winning his second title in record-breaking fashion last season.

Messi took the World Sportsman of the Year award this time at the annual ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, having captained Argentina to victory at the World Cup in December.

Verstappen was among the nominees for the award along with footballer Kylian Mbappé, basketball player Stephen Curry, world record pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and tennis legend Rafael Nadal.

Verstappen’s team, Red Bull, were also among those nominated in the prestigious Team of the Year category, where they went up against the football teams of Real Madrid and the international squads of Argentina’s men and England’s women, as well as France’s men’s rugby team and the Golden State Warriors basketball team.

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But following on the theme of Messi’s World Cup success with Argentina, the men’s team at large won the Team of the Year prize in Paris after overcoming France in the final on penalties.

Alongside the Red Bull driver in previous winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year to come from Formula 1, Hamilton took the prize jointly with Messi in 2020, Sebastian Vettel won it in 2014 after his fourth and final title with Red Bull, and Michael Schumacher was a two-time winner, taking the prize in 2002 and 2004.

Verstappen won his third race of the season so far in Miami over the weekend, reeling in and overtaking team-mate Sergio Perez to take victory after starting ninth on the grid on Sunday.