Written by Staff Writer
Max Verstappen is pictured ahead of the French Grand Prix in Le Castellet on June 23, 2017
While Formula One hero Michael Schumacher continues to make slow strides in his quest to recover from an extremely rare form of motor neurone disease, the sport’s other big name faces another challenging, though less salacious, fight on a larger scale.
“I’m not going to say I’m Michael Schumacher,” says three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, a three-time F1 winner in F1 and a four-time F1 champion on the track. “My dad always says, ‘Do you know what? Let him (Michael) beat himself’.’
“So if I can win Formula One, and accomplish what I want to do with racing, then I’ll be extremely happy.”
The son of ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen, Max has enjoyed phenomenal success in F1, having won the GP3 series as a 17-year-old and carving out an impressive career in F1 on his way to his current position as Racing Director of Red Bull F1 Team.
But is Max Verstappen the new Michael Schumacher?
What caused Verstappen’s injury?
Last year Verstappen climbed up to 17th on the all-time drivers’ standings, being only five points away from Michael Schumacher.
Since then, Verstappen has dominated as well-fancied teammate Daniel Ricciardo occupied the No. 2 position.
But in June of this year, on a testing day in Barcelona, Verstappen suffered an adverse impact during a pit stop that left him with a facial fracture.
The two-second blow left Verstappen with a very limited range of movement — which prompted him to sit down with the doctors he was taking care of at La Caverne Abbey in Belgium.
“We said this to ourselves; what’s important? Us as humans, are we going to get stronger and stronger? Or are we going to be told ‘Stop fighting?’ To focus on the movement?” he said
Verstappen says the team was able to give him “full support to get up and push on,” but “there were times where I almost wanted to give up.”
How did Verstappen look after himself?
“I didn’t really have a choice, to be honest,” he said, of his post-crash state. “So I went on to face it. And I was a bit annoyed, to be honest, because I knew I could have even been in a better situation.
“But I didn’t get that opportunity, so when you’re in this position, where the next option is to finish driving when you’re not actually feeling great about the race or the day, you put yourself in a position where the doctors are telling you, ‘Be strong.’
“You can tell them what’s best for you and the team. You can be their family, in a sense.”
Verstappen left the hospital three days after the accident, but made a full recovery after surgery for his facial fracture.
He celebrates his 21st birthday in November.