Jos Verstappen was understandably beaming with pride as his son Max Verstappen has secured an amazing first victory in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The last time the Dutch flag flew on a Formula 1 podium prior to today occurred in the 1994 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Michael Schumacher won from fellow future World Champion Damon Hill, while in third stood Jos Verstappen, Schumacher’s then teammate at Benetton-Ford, for the first and only podium of his eight-year, 106-start F1 career.
Flash forward 22 years later to May 15, 2016 and it’s 18-year-old Max Verstappen – who obviously wasn’t born yet and whose dad actually raced the driver who Max beat on Sunday in Barcelona – who’s not only the first driver back on the podium since but the first Dutchman ever to win a race.
Of course, at 18, Max has also supplanted Sebastian Vettel – then 21 – as the youngest winner in Grand Prix history.
Understandably, Max’s father was beaming, over the moon and emotional following this incredible result.
“In a way, he did it all today,” Jos Verstappen told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race. “The strategy worked out really well. You had to be a little bit lucky. To have the tires survive for 31 or 32 laps, he know how to look after it.”
Jos also praised his son’s racecraft. Max Verstappen was tasked with defending the lead agains Kimi Raikkonen, who was a rookie in 2001 (when Max was aged 3) and won his first Grand Prix in 2003.
“He made the good exit of last corner, and had a gap of six or seven tenths,” Jos explained. “He knows how to race. I gave him a lot of experience but he does it. He has the capacity to do this well during the race.”
Verstappen was cast against the future seven-time World Champion at Benetton and understandably found it hard to make comparisons for Max versus some of the other stars of the sport.
But Jos said Max, who is only his third year – ever – of racing cars, has made a magnificent arrival into the sport that sets him up nicely down the road.
“I think it’s hard to compare,” Jos Verstappen said. “Max is on the right way. He’s doing an incredible job. I’m so happy he’s with Red Bull and they can develop him even more. He has all the potential in him.”
NBCSN F1 analyst Steve Matchett, who was a Benetton mechanic at the time in 1994, said while Jos never had World Champion chops he was a sponge in soaking up information from Schumacher that made him a better driver throughout his career.
“Jos was a hard working driver but he was racing against Michael Schumacher – he wouldn’t outpace him,” Matchett said during today’s episode of F1 Extra, post-race.
“But he learned as much as he could. When he was out and JJ Lehto was in, he was still there, joining us in pit lane, listening and learning.
“No way he was ever going to be a World Champion, but it’s wonderful he’s given all that experience, and passed on those thoughts.”
It wasn’t just Jos who was wrapped in emotions but so too was Max’s mom, Sophie Kumpen, who posted a tweet in the immediate aftermath.
“I was very emotional of course. I think we will have some celebrations going on tonight!” Jos said.
As for where Max Verstappen fits in in history, he’s the third driver in his lifetime (born Sept. 30, 1997) to have set the record as the youngest Grand Prix winner in history.
Fernando Alonso, who won his first career pole at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix – site of Raikkonen’s first win – won his first career race at that year’s Hungarian Grand Prix at age 22 to beat the prior record held by Bruce McLaren.
Alonso’s mark stood for five years, until Sebastian Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix for Scuderia Toro Rosso at Monza at age 21.
Both Alonso (two titles) and Vettel (four) have gone onto win World Championships.
And now, Verstappen has smashed the prior record at age 18, in just his 24th career start, in his first career race in the Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer.
Fittingly, he stood on the podium with a driver who his dad raced against, and a driver whose record he has now beaten – possibly forever – in F1 annals.