Max Verstappen: the Dutch teenager taking motorsport by storm

Max Verstappen

After recording six back-to-back European F3 victories and conquering the Zandvoort Masters, Max Verstappen is blazing a trail to the top.

When you're 16, success is usually defined by doing well in exams and not being monumentally awkward in any and every social situation.

But nobody has told this to Max Verstappen. The 16-year-old Dutchman is enjoying mounting success, with his form in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship looking set to propel him into superstardom.

The son of F1 journeyman and human fireball Jos Verstappen, and former top-level karter Sophie Kumpen, Max was seemingly born to thrive in motorsport.

Already this season - his first in single-seaters - he has outdone the lofty expectations his last name place on him.

Over the last two European F3 meetings, Max has become the first driver ever to win six races back-to-back. He's not doing this in the same way that F1 greats win huge stretches of races either, as Formula 3 is a single-constructor category. The main difference car-to-car is the driver, and so whereas Vettel, Schumacher and co. had a technological advantage over their rivals, Verstappen is doing it with his own skill.

The circuits he's dominating aren't cakewalks either. His first trio of wins was at the hallowed Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, while the second came in unpredictable weather at the tricky Norisring street-track in Germany. Nor are his rivals going easy on him, as four of his last six victories have had winning margins of less than 1.5s.

And last weekend he was at it again, winning the Zandvoort F3 Masters race in his native Netherlands. In doing so he emulated his father, who took victory there in 1993. All of this adds up to a very impressive showing by the young Dutch driver.

Verstappen had a very slow start to the season, retiring from six of his first 10 races. However, one could forgive him for that as he was racing in his first major European championship. Until this year, all of his racing had been done in either largely uncompetitive winter series or karts. When he did get to the flag, however, he finished well, picking up an early win at Hockenheim along with podiums at Silverstone and Pau.

Currently, Verstappen sits second in the drivers' standings, 74 points behind 17-year-old Frenchman Esteban Ocon. The difference between the two drivers thus far has been consistency and experience, with Lotus development prospect Ocon assuming his massive lead through an impressive run which has only seen him finish off the podium three times in 18 races. The Frenchman also has two years of pan-European racing experience in the Formula Renault 2.0 championship, where last year he finished third to current Formula Renault 3.5 title contenders Oliver Rowland and Pierre Gasly.

However, Ocon's achievements should only serve to highlight how impressive Verstappen has been since getting some experience under his belt and hitting his stride.

To put his success into context with the current crop of F1 drivers, many of whom raced in continental F3, Verstappen's seven wins in 18 races, complete with his six back-to-back, equals anything the current F1 stars achieved. His win tally already matches that of Nico Hulkenberg when the German lifted the title in 2008, beats Romain Grosjean's six wins from his 2007 championship-winning season, and leaves him two shy of the nine Jules Bianchi managed on the way to the 2009 crown.

More impressively, considering his age, Verstappen's form dominates that of Lewis Hamilton when the then-19-year-old picked up a solitary victory in his 2004 debut season. Granted, Hamilton did go on to win fifteen from 20 races on the way to the championship the following year, but even then at no point did the 2008 F1 champ ever manage six back-to-back triumphs.

It's always tricky to properly gauge how a young driver will fare as they move up the ranks. Personal distractions, finance issues, and simply running out of talent have derailed many young careers. However, with Max Verstappen showing an unprecedented run of form at such a young age, one has to believe that it won't be long before we see him trying to replicate his recent performances in F1.