Verstappen: F1's new iceman has the world at his feet


Max Verstappen was a picture of serenity on the grid ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

As engineers, team bosses, members of the media and Formula One's great and good bustled around him, the 18-year-old showed no hint of pressure.

We have come to expect this kind of ice-cool attitude from the sport's most exciting talent, but this was different.

Verstappen was promoted to his Red Bull seat from Toro Rosso less than a fortnight ago at the expense of Daniil Kvyat - a man who had himself shown promise but failed to live up to expectations after making the same switch ahead of the 2015 season.

The pressure of adapting to a new car, a new team, and the desire to repay the faith shown in him by Christian Horner should have weighed heaviest on Verstappen's shoulders as he stood over his RB12 before lights out in Barcelona.

But the placid facade remained intact, offering no suggestion of the history-making drive that was to follow.

Verstappen spoke of only feeling "positive pressure" and his hopes for a good start, and the F1 gods were smiling on this rising star as the Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took each other out on the first lap.

That left Red Bull, who had locked out the second row in a positive qualifying session on Saturday, out in front, and Verstappen became the first Dutchman to lead a grand prix when new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo dived into the pits early on.

While Ricciardo was shifted, much to his displeasure, on to a three-stop strategy, Verstappen's two-stopper proved the perfect tactic.

He barely put a foot wrong in holding off former world champion Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages, becoming the youngest winner of a grand prix in the process as he beat the previous record held by Sebastian Vettel (21 years, 73 days). 

Verstappen's father Jos - a two-time podium finisher during his own F1 career - wiped away the tears as the Dutch anthem played out for the first time in the sport's history, but he, like many, will hope this is just the beginning for his son's burgeoning career.

Few would question that greatness beckons for Verstappen, and the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari will come calling if Red Bull cannot supply a car that can consistently challenge for race victories and titles.

But Verstappen's maiden win will live long in the memory, coming at the circuit where seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher clinched his first victory for Ferrari 20 years ago.

No pressure, Max.