Max Verstappen has proudly raced under the Dutch flag for many years, but a little-known fact about the current F1 world champion is that he was actually born in neighboring Belgium.
More specifically, he was born on September 30, 1997 in Hasselt, a city of about 80,000 people located just across the border in the province of Limburg.
Verstappen is of course the son of former Dutch F1 driver Jos Verstappen, but his mother Sophie Kumpen is also a successful and talented Belgian racing driver.
So, while it was probably predetermined that young Max had the necessary talent to become a top racing driver, it was never a foreseen conclusion that he would race as a Dutchman.
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F1 champion once raced under the Belgian flag
His racing talent began at the age of seven when he rode his first kart, starting his career behind the wheel at Kart Genk in Belgium. Almost immediately, young Max won the title in the mini class, and then several other titles in the colors of the neighboring country in the south of the Netherlands. It was clear that the Belgian Verstappen was at least a decent car racer.
Fast forward to 2015, and a young Verstappen makes his F1 debut as a 17-year-old boy. Although he did so as a Dutch national, there was still considerable controversy over his nationality.
Kumpen’s mother suggested at the time that Verstappen only had a Belgian identity card and that with it he would have also registered for F1 under her mother’s guidance. After scoring his first points at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Verstappen’s mother once again suggested that Verstappen had been misjudged as a Dutchman and had scored points as a Belgian.
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Joss’ reaction to Max’s nationality controversy
Later that year, his father Jos also became involved in the ongoing debate over his nationality.
Contributed to a Dutch newspaper De Telegraafhe addressed the situation directly.
Verstappen said: “Everyone wants a piece of Max at the moment. On the one hand, it’s a great compliment for him. He’s doing very well not only in the car but also outside the car. He has a good impression and has a sense of freshness.” “I understand that a lot of people are proud, and of course I am too. But it’s difficult in some ways,” he honestly admitted.
“So Max is suddenly Belgian for some Belgian media, which I think is a bit weak. We’ve been racing for years, but until a few months ago very little was written about him in Belgium. And now all of a sudden they’re claiming it.” “He’s theirs. I definitely don’t think that way,” the Dutchman said at the time.
For Verstappen Sr., it was clear that Max would race under the Dutch red, white and blue.
“Max was born when Sophie and I were married, so the situation is that he has both nationalities. But he races on a Dutch license, so he’s a bit more Dutch than Belgian. He is a person.”
“That’s how he feels. If Holland-Belgium has to play football, he’s rooting for the Dutch national team and when he turns 18 and has to choose, it’s Dutch nationality. It will be beneficial.”
Max makes his choice
And that’s what happened.
Later that year, 18-year-old Verstappen was given the chance to decide under which flag he wanted to race F1. There was no doubt that he was a three-time world champion. He wanted to win under the Dutch flag.
Verstappen, who grew up primarily in Maaseik on the Dutch border, also voiced his opinion at the time.
“Actually, I lived in Belgium just to sleep, but during the day I went to the Netherlands and had friends there. I was brought up Dutch and that’s how I feel.” he said.
So, in the end, Verstappen made a choice based on his feelings towards the Dutch flag, and the choice proved to have no negative impact on his subsequent career.
The 26-year-old driver sparked a craze for auto racing among die-hard Dutch supporters and Dutch people. orange army They can be seen following him and cheering him on in stands all over the world.
With the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort back on the calendar, there is no doubt that his choice has resonated and there is a proud Dutchman in his country.
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