The combined brainpower of every psychiatric expert in Broadmoor could not discern the motivations behind the success of Formula One’s notoriously aloof Max Verstappen, but it seems like a safe bet to consider the influence of his father — who, it must be said, would likely benefit from a spell in that very same high-security hospital. The Dutch point machine was at 17 the youngest ever driver to compete in F1, and having won the world championship twice he is now one of the most fearsome racers on the grid today. So what makes him tick?
There can be few professional drivers whose success was not due, in some part, to having headcase parents who bundled their tearful children behind the wheels of a go-kart, and yet Verstappen’s father Jos seems to be an extreme example. Verstappen is on the record telling interviewers that growing up, his dad, a former F1 driver, was “harsh”, frequently telling his son that he was a “disappointment”. “My dad never said I was gonna be a champion,” Verstappen once told David Coulthard. “He was always the opposite, he’d tell me I was gonna be a truck driver or like a bus driver. He was always, in a good way I think, making me realise that what I was doing at the time was not enough.” How lovely!
In one bleak joint interview Jos recounts a story of making the child Max go-kart on a freezing winter’s day. “He couldn’t move his fingers,” laughs Jos in the clip. “I didn’t care. I wanted to move forward. He was saying, ‘I’m cold’.” Jos fondly recalls Verstappen complaining that his fingers became “very painful” and were unable to grip the steering wheel, to which his lovely father responded: “Shut up”. Protective equipment, Jos later snarled at his son, was nothing but “pussy pads”.
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