Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, both fighters in Formula 1, have more similarities than you think. Their parents separated when they were young and both had a persuasive but important father to their careers. Two files on successful drivers.
The Netherlands has a “Maxmania”, but Max Verstappen is also very popular abroad. “The press abroad is sometimes more lyrical than the Dutch press,” says analyst and former Formula 1 driver Robert Dornbos. Niki Lauda called him the greatest talent of the century. Max has already made his mark on Formula 1.”
Such popularity at home and abroad is due not only to Max’s rapid rise and his amazing overtaking maneuvers, but also mainly, thanks to Red Bull and Verstappen, the long dominance of Mercedes and Hamilton is over. It’s finally exciting again in Formula 1.
“It’s also because of the way he talks,” said famous Formula 1 analyst and racing driver Tom Coronel. Frankly, he never spoke with a political agenda. With Max, black is black and white is white. He learned that from his father, Gus.”
“Max is a super natural talent,” Dornboss says. “And beyond that, a nice, relaxed man.”
Note: Dutch Pride has never lived a day in the Netherlands. Max Verstappen was born at Hasselt Hospital in 1997 and grew up in Maaseik, across the border in Belgium’s Limburg, until he moved to Monaco at the age of 18 – and not just for the sun.
His Belgian mother, Sophie Compen-Carter, was talented in her youth. She meets Father Gus Verstappen on a go-kart. Jos Verstappen himself drives 107 grands prix and is the most successful Dutch driver in Formula 1 so far this century with two podiums – both times he finished third. He just has the image that his races often end up in the gravel.
Father Gus Jr. Max from a young age hits his nails with his racing fanaticism, but without recklessness. And unlike Gus, after a turbulent start, Max became a quiet driver during the races. “Gus paid a lot of money, and was able to pass it all on to Max. How cool? Father and son in Formula 1. This is a dream picture,” says Dornbos.
Young starts. According to a cute anecdote, Gus gets 4-year-old Max crying on the phone during a race weekend. Can he please drive a kart?
Gus actually thinks his son is still two years old, but he agrees. After a few years, Max has already won everything there is to be won in karting, even from boys over three or four years old. Since a little Max weighs quite a bit, he has to put pounds of lead into his kart to make up for this advantage. Since the win is still too easy, his dad only allows Max to overtake in corners and is no longer in the easiest straight.
When Max is not yet ten years old, his parents divorce and he goes to live with his father. This gives him a hard lesson. After a defeat, sometimes he does not talk to him for two days. Their relationship is sometimes difficult, but always faithful.
In 2015 Verstappen made his Melbourne debut. He will then be 17 years and 166 days old, and is the youngest driver in Formula 1 to date. He doesn’t even have his driver’s license yet. In the first seasons, he was accused of being young and reckless, but after his first season he immediately won the awards for “Rookie of the Year”, “Person of the Year” and “Action of the Year”. A year later, he won his first Grand Prix in Barcelona. It’s the beginning of Maxmania.
Like Hamilton, Verstappen also distances himself from his father, who was involved in everything in his early years at Red Bull, but has fallen back on the Red Bull leadership’s intercession. Gus’s job is done.
The rest is hype
English business magazine Forbes Verstappen’s calculations calculated that Verstappen earns 35 million euros annually, and is the second highest paid driver in Formula 1. The highest paid is Hamilton at 52 million euros. The question is: for how long?
“Max’s driving style is more aggressive than that of Lewis,” says Coronel. “Only one thing matters to Max: the world title, and the rest is noise. Although the whole world is collapsing around him, Max doesn’t care – and that suits him.”
However, Verstappen is also involved socially, Dornboss would like to stress. “When I asked him once for a noble reason, he immediately did. What purpose did we have to keep his privacy. Max also has his heart in the right place.”
He is a model, style icon, businessman, and rapper. A charming boy wearing diamond earrings and an ever-changing haircut, B. Diddy and Pharrell Williams are among his friends and visits Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. He is also a climate activist and pioneer of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In addition, Lewis Hamilton is also a seven-time world champion in Formula 1, equaling that of another great in the sport, Michael Schumacher. This season, Hamilton could become the best of all-time if Max Verstappen doesn’t step in.
He is also the only black driver, Tiger Woods of Motorsports, which is why he was in the world’s top 100 for several years.
However, motor racing was no longer the only thing for Hamilton. In recent years, he has been using his huge social network (23.5 million followers on Instagram, 5.7 million on Facebook and 6.5 million on Twitter) to spread his message for a better world. In 2017 he became a known vegetarian and after the death of George Floyd he took the initiative to kneel at the starting line before the start of the Grand Prix, an action that Max Verstappen did not participate in.
He wants Tommy Hilfiger to make his own clothing line out of completely recycled fabrics ASAP, and he’s also sold his own plane, a bright red one. He no longer wants any plastic items around, including his toothbrush, and hopes to live a neutral climate in the short term.
Fellow runners, including Verstappen, have been somewhat surprised by the climate goals of this iconic figure in the sports industry who isn’t immediately known for their environmental friendliness.
“I love gasoline,” Verstappen said, when asked about Hamilton’s environmental ideals. Incidentally, Hamilton has announced that he has nothing to do with Formula E, the racing branch of electric motorcycles.
“Louis is a committed A little kid ”, says the famous Formula 1 analyst and racing driver Tom Coronel. “It’s a bit philosophical. Max instinctively, with a bit of emotion. With Louis, everything seems to be very well planned. But he had to fight hard to get to where he is today.”
Lewis Hamilton was born in 1985 in Stevenage, north London. Mother Carmen Larbalestier is British, father Anthony Hamilton’s roots are in Grenada. Two years after Louis’s birth, his parents divorced. There is not much money, Louis does not have his own bed and sleeps on the sofa, and he has many jobs to pay for his son’s wonderful hobby: karting.
“During the races they slept in the car and ate canned beans,” says former Formula 1 driver and analyst Robert Dornbos. “He’s a street fighter.”
Hamilton’s talent was quickly noticed, and at the age of fourteen he was awarded a place in the stable of talents at McLaren. Eight years later, he made his Formula 1 debut and immediately finished the season by one point behind Kimi Raikkonen. A year later, it’s time: 23-year-old Hamilton is the youngest world champion to date.
But his real triumph begins after the separation from his father, who is now his business manager, and his move to the soon-to-be full-powered Mercedes. Between 2014 and 2020, Hamilton won the world title every year except for 2016. However, the English public does not embrace him unanimously. Part of the supporters – the whites – find it difficult to identify the black activist, similar to international footballer Raheem Sterling, who also has a love-hate relationship with some English football fans.
Experts say that Hamilton’s thoughtful personality is also reflected in his driving style. “His style is a little less offensive and more hesitant than Max’s,” Coronel says. “There is more peace in it. But now that things have gone a lot less this year, you see a kind of panic in Lewis, and unsportsmanlike.”
For example, Hamilton celebrates winning at Silverstone earlier this year, while at the time Verstappen was in hospital to be checked after Hamilton put him off the track.
Dornboss: “I don’t think these two would go on vacation together, but they don’t have to. They fight on the right track. Plus, they lead completely different lives.”