The teenage Dutch prodigy made his debut for Red Bull Racing in Barcelona, having taken Daniil Kvyat’s seat – with the Russian landing at Verstappen’s former home Scuderia Toro Rosso. It turned out to be an inspired move by Red Bull and its take-no-prisoners management, led by Dr Helmut Marko. ‘Get this kid in the A-team sharpish’ was probably the crux of the thought-process when the plan was revealed ahead of the fifth round of the 2016 championship.
At just 18 years old, Verstappen qualified the Red Bull RB12 fourth, which set-up a second-row scrap with team-mate and third-fastest qualifier Daniel Ricciardo, and he drove, not for the first time in his short career, like a veteran.
Holding off the Ferrari of closest pursuer Kimi Raikkonen (Verstappen was three when the Finn made his F1 debut in 2001!) to the tune of 0.6 seconds and on tyres that were way past their best, he made history by smashing the youngest-winner record by two-and-a-half years and becoming the first Dutchman to win a Grand Prix. In fact, only one other Dutch racer among the 14 to have contested at least one World Championship GP, Max’s father Jos, had stood on a podium, thanks to his third-place finishes for Benetton in the 1994 Hungarian and Belgian GPs.