Sebastian Vettel questions merits of Jos’ tough-love raising of Max Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen smiling at his dad Jos Verstappen. Yas Island, December 2021.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen smiles as he looks up at his dad Jos Verstappen. Yas Island, December 2021.

Jos Verstappen used a tough-love approach to mould his son Max Verstappen into a racing star. Sebastian Vettel questions this method.

It has been well-documented that Jos, keen to ensure that Max had a better racing career than he did, did not take it easy on his son, working him hard and intensely through his younger years to become the star of Formula 1 that he is today, and really the originator of a new era of young talent in Formula 1.

Max broke all records when he took his place on the grid for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso, then aged 17.

Some of Jos’ methods in Max’s karting days were a little more extreme than others, such as a public tap on the top of the helmet after a poor practice session, or leaving him at a fuel station after a championship-costing incident for his mum to pick him up a few minutes later.



The weather conditions, however harsh, were also not an excuse for Max in his younger years.

For Vettel, though, has his doubts over the value of Jos’ tough love.

“What do we think makes someone more resilient?” Vettel pondered in reference to Max’s career and upbringing when speaking to Road and Track.

“I didn’t get beaten up. But if you do get beaten up your whole life, does that work? Or does it work to be loved and explained the ways of how the world works?

“If you compare the two, who is more resilient? Is resilience fighting back like somebody hits you, you hit back? Or is resilience strength in understanding what just happened, reflecting and taking things on from there?

“Being a father myself, obviously I have these challenges every day, and if you say, okay, my children are allowed to talk back, well, then you also need to face the fact that they are talking back.

“So I think it is fascinating, because it’s so much of who we are later on and how we manage situations. And I’m not talking about how many races we might win. Our childhood is fundamental. So much can be done right, and so much can be done wrong.”

Vettel is now moving towards his retirement from Formula 1, as just five races remain before he bids farewell to the series, at least from a racing perspective.

Read more: Martin Brundle says ‘Max Verstappen 2.0 is still quite a temper’