Inside Line: Thankfully Max takes after his mother
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Jos Verstappen sullied his already rock bottom reputation by involving himself in a brawl that resulted in a black eye and bloody nose for the former F1 driver and father of the sport’s brightest star Max Verstappen. Report here>>>
And now, sadly, the youngster is being tarred with the same brush that is tarring his degenerate father.
It’s well known that Jos has had numerous sordid episodes involving violence.
In December 2008, Verstappen appeared in court in Tongeren charged with assaulting his wife Sophie Kumpen (mother of Max).
He got away with the assault charges, but was found guilty of threatening Kumpen in text messages and of violating a previously issued restraining order.
After a 1998 incident in a karting track, in which a man suffered a fractured skull, Verstappen and his father Frans were found guilty in court of assault. Each were sentenced to five-year suspended sentences after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the victim.
On 29 November 2011, media reported allegations that Verstappen had assaulted his ex-girlfriend.
Last year in July, De Telegraaf reported that the former Benetton and Minardi driver physically attacked his own father, Max’s grandfather Frans Verstappen.
These are the actions of a serial scumbag, that he is not behind bars is an indication that there is something seriously wrong with the modern legal system.
However to point a finger at Max for the actions of his wayward father are absolutely unfair.
The kid is quite likable, has a cheeky sense of humour and a quick smile. Sure he has a steel resolve in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car, but that is expected of a top class Formula 1 driver.
Apart from a helmet flung in the Toro Rosso garage at some point of his tenure with the team, there is little evidence to suggest that the kid has a violent streak like his father.
Indeed he has been victim of his Jos’ physical and mental violence over a sustained period of time.
There is a a story that often does the rounds in karting circles, involving Max and Jos, concerning the time that the prodigy was leading a race in the rain at La Conca.
While enjoying a good lead he made a mistake and spun, he recovered well to make his way back to third place after a gutsy drive through the field.
After the race, in the weigh-station, his seething father approached him, stopped and punched the kid in the chest, then walked away without a word.
And apparently there are many such stories of how Max was subjected to his father’s wrath during his karting days.
Jos himself seems proud of the way he handled his boy and told the story of the karting world cup in Sarno.
Max qualified fastest and comfortably won the pre-final by a few seconds. But in the final he lost the lead from pole position, on lap two he attempted a kamikaze manoeuvre which went wrong. He retired from the race in tears.
“I was so upset with him,” recalled Jos in an interview. “I walked away out of the park, and went to the van and started packing the tent down. He was crying like a baby. He was really disappointed.”
“He said: Daddy, we have to go and pick up the chassis because it’s the last race of the day. I replied: No, I’m not going. If you want your chassis, you have to go and get it yourself.”
“He looked at me and knew I was angry. He got somebody else to help him put it in the van. Then we left the circuit, and he tried to start speaking to me. I didn’t say a word to him.”
“I said: Don’t speak to me. I’m really fed up with it and disappointed with the way you were racing. Please, don’t speak.”
“I didn’t speak to him for seven days. I ignored him. I was really pissed. I really wanted to teach him a point that it should hurt him. I wanted to show him that.
“He was also sick from what happened. And after a week, I started talking to him again,” added Jos who prepared his son’s karts from their home workshop.
Max himself said earlier this year, “There is nobody harder on me than my dad, no matter what other people say, it is never that hard, compared to him.”
A shrink would have a field day with this combination, and for sure Jos would be the villain of the piece. Thus criticising Max for the sins of his father are unfounded and unjust.
Jos was a non-spectacular Formula 1 journeyman, Max is a Formula 1 superstar.
I would venture that the bulk of Max’s DNA comes from the good side of his family, namely his mother Sophie Kumpen who in her karting days beat the likes of Jenson Button, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jarno Trulli.
So it would be safe to say that Max inherited his mother’s genes when it comes to his incredible racing instincts and, by all accounts, his amiable personality too. In other words: thankfully he takes after his mother!
No doubt Max feels indebted to his Dad for the sacrifices he made to ensure his son had the best of the best, the money spent was probably in the region of a million dollars over the course of a decade of karting.
But Jos is now a liability in the high profile life Max has carved out for himself, and the good-natured youngster certainly does not deserve to be singled out for his father’s misdemeanours.
Footnote: The saddest thing is that in karting there are thousands of Dads who traumatise their sons as they follow their dream of Formula 1 stardom. They behave like Jos but are never exposed because fame eludes them.
As a karting Dad and freind of mine remarked when discussing the latest Jos episode, “Good job it all worked out for Max and Jos, but a fair few farther and sons hate each because of racing. I know a few very bitter Dads. Spent the house on karting and the kid is now working at McDonalds.”
Inside Line Opinion by Paul Velasco