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Max Image Credit: Top Gear
Max Image Credit: Top Gear

Max

Does Verstappen have the mixture of genetic advantage and raw ability to own F1’s future podium?

Jason Barlow

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, the author attempts to decode high achievement.

How much is down to natural aptitude versus opportunity repeatedly knocking? He cites two prime examples: The Beatles and Bill Gates, both of whom surfed to gargantuan success of the back of a unique confluence of possibilities. But they also racked up 10,000 hours of hard graft. Nobody is born a genius.

You might want to add Max Verstappen to the list. He remains the youngest driver in history to start a grand prix, and also the youngest to win one. When Red Bull promoted him from Toro Rosso to the A-team in 2016, just four races into the season, what looked like a calculated leap of faith was immediately repaid by that debut win.

There were two more victories, in Malaysia and Mexico in 2017, but it was Verstappen’s drive through the field from 14th to third place in the 2016 Brazilian GP that had even the most phlegmatic observers falling over their superlatives. In biblically awful conditions, he was conjuring grip where none seemed to exist. If Senna and Schumacher are Formula One’s greatest outliers, this was surely Verstappen’s application to join the club.

Of late, though, he’s looked less celestial. Verstappen weathered his Red Bull’s unreliability last year, but compounded a luckless streak with some dodgy moves of his ow


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