F1’s Teen driver permi T
The careers of sons of famous drivers provide
interesting case studies for the “nature vs.
nurture” debate. Did they succeed because
talent was in the genes, or because their well
connected dads gave them opportunities
that others could only dream about?
One could argue that the likes of Damon
Hill and Jacques Villeneuve made it despite
not having a father around who planned
every step of their careers. But in most
cases – such as Nico Rosberg – it’s a
question of nature and nurture combining.
Max Verstappen is perhaps the most
extreme example of both sides of the
equation. Not only was father Jos a
Formula1 driver, but his mother Sophie
Kumpen hails from a famous Belgian racing
family and was a talented karter who raced
(and often beat) many future star names.
While many famous sons have had the
advantage of being put in a kart at a young
age, it’s unlikely that anyone has been
through the sort of intensive program that
Max benefited from. Jos was totally
hands-on in every step of his development.
“He was four-and-a-half years old when he
nature? nurture? or a little of both?
started,” says Jos. “We went to the track and
I let him drive, and I was watching him, what
he was doing. There was no pressure, and
only on the way home I was talking – ‘You did
this, you did that’ – just briefly telling him
what he should do and things like that. He
was very motivated to drive, but really you
could see that even by six, compared to kids
of his age, he was a lot further along.
“First of all it’s important to have the
talent. I can’t tell how much it helps that
his mother was racing before, but he had a
feeling for driving at an early stage.
“When he was seven he was allowed to
do his first kart races in Holland with a
50cc engine. I also brought him long to the
big races, and he was always watching, so
he learned a lot from that.
“We always prepared our own equipment,
and when I was on the dyno he was always
there to watch, always asking, ‘What are you
doing now?’ The education he has
compared to other people who raced karts
is completely different, because he was
always there. That’s why I think Max is a lot
further than the other people of his age.”
Max Verstappen isn’t lacking in the racing genetics dept., but being around the sport was just as key.
(BELOW) Although he’s something
of a hostage to fortune as McLaren
struggles in 2014, rookie Kevin
Magnussen has impressed enough
to be (reasonably) confident of
retaining his seat in ’ 15.
When Max “son of Jos” Verstappen (ABOVE)
joins the circus in 2015, he’ll be racing
alongside Kevin “son of Jan” Magnussen
(BELOW) as second-gen F1 drivers.