‘Shy and nervous’ Verstappen still an F1 success: ‘Much more to come’

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‘Shy and nervous’ Verstappen still an F1 success: ‘Much more to come’

Paul Stoddart quickly saw that Max Verstappen was a good driver, but was concerned about the then only seventeen-year-old top talent before his debut in Formula 1. At the time, Jos Verstappen’s former team boss at Minardi saw a side of the now two-time world champion that is not well known to many.

Stoddart talks about the first moment he met a young Max Verstappen in the podcast Beyond The Grid. ‘I think it was August or September 2003, we had an event in Rockingham. And we had one of the very first Formula 1 simulators that just came out at the time. Anyway, this very young, cheeky Max said to Jos: come on dad, I want a race with you in the simulator.’

That race came, Stoddart remembers all too well. ‘In the end Jos gave in and drove a race with Max. Who won that race? I think Max knows that. Max won. What would Max have been then, about five or six years old? He showed very early on what he was doing.’ The Australian was not surprised. ‘Why should I be surprised? Look at the background of his mother Sophie, or of Jos. Maybe I was surprised how good he was.’

Shy Verstappen achieves great success in F1

On the other hand, Stoddart also remembers a moment when he saw Verstappen from a completely different side. A more shy side of the Dutchman emerged at the Autosport Awards in 2014, the year before his debut with then-Toro Rosso. “He was with Raymond Vermeulen, his manager, and he was so shy at those awards and so nervous. And I thought, oh god, Max, I hope he gets through this.’

“But of course he did,” the businessman continues. Stoddart saw it was right. “And you know, he achieved great things. It was, I think, that Toro Rosso saw very early on that he was the chosen one, and then he won for the first time in Barcelona. I mean, you don’t get much better than that. And yes, now he’s a two-time world champion, but I think we all know there’s more to come.’

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