Max Verstappen’s determination to beat Lewis Hamilton stemmed from father’s ‘frustration’

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Former F1 driver David Coulthard believes Max Verstappen’s steely determination in Formula One to beat Lewis Hamilton heavily stems from his father’s “tough love” attitude growing up. Verstappen’s outspoken comments and aggressive driving style ruffled some feathers last season on his way to a maiden F1 title in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton was forced to yield many times over the 2021 season, calling Verstappen’s style ‘aggressive’ on the race track as the two battled it out throughout the entire season.

But motorsport was in his blood, with Verstappen growing up around racing thanks to both of his parent’s interest in the sport. His mother, Sophie Kumpen, was an ex-karter champion and his father picked up 107 starts in F1 but failed to ever pick up a win in the championship.

Verstappen had his first outing in a kart at four-and-a-half years old at Genk and was hooked from thereon.

Despite a controversial and violent past, in which Verstappen Snr was arrested on numerous occasions for assault, the 49-year-old has been a constant alongside his son as he watched over his success from the sidelines.

The Red Bull driver paid tribute to his dad after his win at Yas Marina, visibly emotional as he crossed the line to beat Hamilton to the crown.

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But looking back, Coulthard believed the journey for Verstappen to become world champion started from a very young age.

“That journey started at four years old when Jos, frustrated with the mistakes of his own career, he mapped out how to build a future World Champion,” Coulthard told Channel 4.

“So it’s been tough love, there has not been, let’s say some other guys here in the Formula 1 paddock that maybe have been magic carpeted into this paddock, but Max has had to fight for it.

“He’s been a winner all the way through, skipped some of the lower formulas, to come into Formula 1, but he fears nobody, that’s not a part of his psyche.”

Verstappen and his father have often opened up about his “tough love” upbringing, something that the current world champion has said helped him on his way to success.

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“I remember he was probably eight or nine or something,” says Verstappen snr, as quoted by The Race. “Wednesdays, school was finished at 12, we went to the go-kart track, and in the wintertime, it was freezing.

“So, I let the van run so he could warm up, and then we did 10 laps. He was cold. I said ‘OK, go warm up’, and then three minutes later [Max was not back] – ‘f***, where is he now…Come on!’ [and Max would say] ‘I’m still cold’. ‘I don’t care, drive.’

“And he couldn’t move his fingers, and I didn’t care. I wanted to test things, because I was building engines, and changing chassis, and I wanted to have a result because I wanted to move forward.”

“I could barely hold the steering wheel,” interrupted his son.

Jos adds: “And then, when the fingers warm up again, that’s very painful. I said ‘ah, shut up’.”

Laughing, Verstappen jnr replied: “Trying to make me tough, I think.”

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