Max Verstappen is probably the best driver on the current F1 grid. With the last two world titles in his name and regarded as the favorite for the next one, Verstappen is smashing all the esteemed records on every step.
The former world champion Nico Rosberg has already started to count him as one of the top 5 F1 drivers of all time. However, the initial journey of the Dutchman doesn’t appear to be as smooth as it seems.
When Red Bull proposed to bring him as the starting driver, he was yet to be an adult. Someone debuting at 17 was a hideous idea for the majority, but the hierarchy at Red Bull thought that the Dutchman was too good to be delayed.
Mika Hakkinen thought he was too young for F1
The two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen was also hesitant to see a person who is yet to be allowed to drive a road car be in F1. According to him, it was too early to start him.
“It’s too young because in F1 the risk is too high,” said Hakkinen when Verstappen was about to make his debut. “In F1, you don’t get too learn; you have to be ready. F1 doesn’t allow you to do much learning.”
But ultimately, Verstappen wiped off all the doubts around him. He proved good enough to jump from Toro Rosso to Red Bull within a season and replace Daniil Kvyat.
Fast forward to 2023, and he has 35 wins under his name and two world titles. Even the best of the best don’t have these decorated stats. To put it in perspective, he has already overtaken Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen in race wins, and Ayrton Senna is the next target.
FIA changed the rules because of him
The FIA was shocked to see a teenager stepping into the biggest racing series globally. In their wildest dream, they never thought of this as only 20 drivers can be in it at once. But Red Bull was too willing to bring him on.
However, the governing body didn’t want to set a precedent after Verstappen’s entry. So, they brought in the concept of superlicense points, where the drivers would need 40 points at least to be in F1. That means they must have a certain level from the junior series to be in the bigger league.
Moreover, the basic eligibility of a superlicense is the driver needs to be 18 and needs to have a valid driver’s license, which Verstappen had neither back in his time. So, a repeat of the Dutchman is never going to happen again.