Début in single seater racing
2014 marks the début year in car racing for Max Verstappen. The 16-year-old flies to Miami to participate in the Florida Winter Series in January and February. The series are supported by the Ferrari Driver Academy and its main goal is to prepare budding young racing drivers for a professional motorsport career. The participants compete at three American race tracks across four rounds, each consisting of three races. The drivers drive identical Tatuus FA010B Formula Abarth single seater racers.
From the start, Max shows he is a worthy opponent in a field consisting of many experienced Formula 3 drivers. In his very first single seater race, at Sebring, Max leads the pack for most of the race, but he finishes is fourth after a slight mistake. A collision in the second race of Round 1 results in a DNF whereas a drive through penalty in Race 3, throws him back to eighth.
During the second round at Palm Beach, the unexperienced rookie clinches his first podium with a deserved second place. Race 2 results in seventh but Max bounces straight back with his first motorsport victory in the third race of the weekend. Despite constant pressure and a gearbox problem, Verstappen junior holds off his opponents to cross the line in first.
The third round of the series, held in Miami, is characterized by a mature perfromance by Max as he bags two third places on top of a DNF. Race 1 of the fourth FWS round, challenges Max’ racing instincts as he manages to finish in a solid fourth place after lapping in last place after the first lap. During the second race in Homestead, Max is robbed of second place after a skirmish. He ends the race in fifth. However, the rapid youngster once again shows his tenacity by claiming a slipstream victory (by a margin of 0.004s!) in the last FWS race of the series.
At the start of March, the news is announced that Max, with Van Amersfoort Racing, will contest the prestigious FIA Formula 3 European Championship. With this collaboration, Verstappen junior follows in his father's footsteps, as Jos Verstappen, driving for the same Dutch outfit, clinched the Formula Opel Lotus Benelux Championship in 1992.
Despite the Volkswagen engine in the back, Max is able to take on the works teams powered by Merdeces. In only his third race, he claims his first podium at Silverstone. A round later, at Hockenheim, he clinched his first victory.
Two DNFs at the Pau street circuit are followed by a few lukewarm results at the Hungoring. However, Max and Van Amersfoort show resilience by taking on the lessons learned in the early stages of the season. The Dutchman strikes back with two hattrick wins at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps and a soacked Norisring, claiming six wins on the trot.
He continues his season with a second and third place in Moscow, a podiumless weekend at the Red Bull Ring, before taking a win at the Nurburgring.
Max finishes the season on a high with wins at Imola and Hockenheim. It brings his victory tally up to eleven, more than any other driver. In the end, he finishes his rookie championship in third with411 points. In addition, Max emulates Verstappen senior by winning the prestigious Zandvoort Masters, thus following in the footsteps of many famous F1 names.
The race wins and strong performances do not go unnoticed. Several Formula 1 outfits show interest in adding Max to their talent programme. However, at the start of August, the youngster announces he oins the infamous and ambitious Red Bull Junior Team.
Little over a week later, Formula 1 history is written with Max being presented as one of the two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers for the 2015 season. To obtain a superlicense, and thus the right to compete in Grands Prix, Max completes 148 laps in a Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Adria International Raceway in Italy.
His first run in an F1 car is followed by Friday free practice outings at Suzuka (P12), the Circuit of the Americas (P10) and Interlagos (P6). During the first two test days after the final race in Abu Dhabi, Max sets an impressive third quickest time in the STR9, on top of gainingvaluable track time ahead of his rookie Formula 1 season.