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Who is Jos Verstappen, the man behind one of F1's biggest stars?

The former F1 driver has been instrumental in his son Max Verstappen's meteoric rise to Formula 1, but what is his background and how did he get involved in the sport?

Jos Verstappen © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Max Verstappen is one of the most highly-rated drivers on the current Formula 1 grid.

Since making his debut in motorsport's top tier at the age of just 17 with Toro Rosso, and winning on his debut with Red Bull a year later, the young Dutch driver was marked out as a future World Champion – an ambition he realised in 2021.

While the youngster had a phenomenal rise to Formula 1, he has also benefitted from the support of one of the sport's most influential figures, his father Jos Verstappen.

But who is Jos Verstappen and what role did he play in helping Max reach the pinnacle of motorsport?

Jos Verstappen the racing driver

Like his son, Jos Verstappen was also a professional driver and reached Formula 1 at a young age (22) when, after conducting pre-season tests for Footwork Arrows, he joined the Benetton team amid interest from many others in the paddock.

He initially signed on as a test driver, but made his race debut in 1994 after an injury to JJ Lehto, scoring two podium finishes in his rookie season.

However, Verstappen's fortunes diverged from his son's experience in F1 the following season when he was loaned out to Simtek by Benetton Team Principal Flavio Briatore, where, in a weak car with reliability issues, he finished just one of the five races he drove for the team before it went bankrupt after the Monaco Grand Prix.

The next year he scored a sixth-place finish in a return to the Footwork Arrows team and, while he showed strong form throughout the season, he was eventually dropped in favour of the suddenly-available Damon Hill before the 1997 campaign.

After a few more seasons in uncompetitive cars, Verstappen rounded out his F1 career with backmarkers Minardi in 2003, eventually opting to look for drives outside Formula 1 for the 2004 season.

Overall he contested 107 Grands Prix, achieving two podium finishes and scoring 17 championship points, with a highest qualifying position of sixth at the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix.

Verstappen went on to compete in other racing forms, including two appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he won the LMP2 class in 2008.

Jos Verstappen the coach

Following his exit from the sport, Jos put all of his energy into the young Max, who began karting at four and would go on to win multiple championships in Europe as a junior driver.

Max has attributed much of his success in racing to the support of his father, and Jos himself has said that he was even more invested in his son's success than his own.

"Max was my life project. I wanted to win with him, become a champion. We had a goal together," Verstappen senior said back in 2019.

"I found the time with Max much more fun than my own career. Put it this way: I did more for Max's career than for my own career."

Max has spoken about how his father taught him to rely on his own intuition with the car rather than solely on data.

In an interview with his sponsor, CarNext, Max explained how Jos would change parts on the car to teach the junior Verstappen how to feel the machine.

"That's what my dad [taught me]: sometimes he would send me out, he would change something [on the kart], but he wouldn't tell me what, and then I had to feel what it was doing," he said.

"That's how we get a good understanding of new parts coming onto the car. But he also told me. 'If you don't feel anything, don't say anything; don't lie'."

Jos continues to serve as a mentor to his son in his stellar F1 career, and is often seen right beside him in the paddock, enjoying the success that the hard work and time he has put into the sport has yielded.

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