Max: The Dutch Master book review — Lewis, look away now

Dive into Max Verstappen’s karting days and discover what made him a world champion in an insightful, albeit subjective, new title

Max Verstappen karting

The work sheds extra light on Verstappen’s karting origins, but adds little to the Formula 1 era

So much has already been said about Max Verstappen including in the documentary Whatever It Takes, as well as several biographies, that the big question about André Hoogeboom’s Max: The Dutch Master is whether it brings new revelations to the table.

The book is divided into two parts. The first focuses on Max’s karting career and the latter on his F1 days. The karting section reveals the pivotal moments that shaped the Dutch driver into a future world champion and it is clear that Max had to endure a lot of tough love from his father Jos, himself a successful F1 driver who raced alongside Michael Schumacher.

The book highlights one incident which took place in Sarno, Italy, in 2013, when Max crashed his kart and lost his shot at the 125cc KZ2 world title. Jos was furious and said, “Don’t talk to me. You’ve ruined the race and I’m sick to death of it.” Several of the other 271 pages attempt to drive home
the point that tough love works.

The F1 section is less successful in revealing anything new. Instead Hoogeboom refers to Whatever It Takes when he’s at a loss to offer any other insight and the lack of co-operation with the Verstappens themselves becomes more obvious. Hoogeboom does succeed at highlighting the catalysts behind the scenes: Jos’s manager Huub Rothengatter, who financed Max’s Formula 3 seat, tyre specialist Kees van de Grint, who knew three generations of the family, and Sander Dorsman, who gave Max his first test in a single-seater, to name a few. Meanwhile Sir Jackie Stewart and journalists Peter Windsor and Will Buxton offer useful insights. Hoogeboom himself sees no flaws whatsoever in the reigning champion.

The words are accompanied by photographs from Max’s initial karting days  up to the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But while the book provides a rare insight into Max’s psyche that first developed during his karting career, the F1 section of the book adds little to what we already know. Max: The Dutch Master acts as a starting point for anyone who is new to Formula 1. For a Max fan, this could be a bible. But for others, it is a one-time read to be skimmed through.

Max Verstappen autobiography Max: The Dutch Master
André Hoogeboom

Evro Publishing, £25
ISBN 9781910505755

Buy now


June 2022 book reviews in brief

Gilbern Cars

Michael Burgess

A car I’ve never seen before! Not something I expected to find in a little book on Gilbern, Wales’s only car builder, but in among the better-known and remarkably good-looking Invaders are photos of a mid-engined prototype that wasn’t finished when the company folded in 1973. Striking for sure, but maybe not the right market for handbuilt glassfibre GTs from a Welsh industrial estate. Burgess tells the tale of this enterprising outfit and the attractive cars it created, but like so many others, failed to sell in enough numbers to sustain the cash flow. GC

Amberley Publishing, £14.99
ISBN 9781445690919


Lola GT – the DNA of the Ford GT40 

John Starkey

The author must have Lola DNA in his own system, being a serial writer on the marque and a T70 racer, too. Now it’s the turn of Eric Broadley’s little masterpiece, a compact coupé with a big American V8 in the back which spotlit a path for future sports racers.

Starkey has found new material, notably from racer Allen Grant, who bought the prototype Mk6 from Lola in 1965 and still has it. He quotes Broadley saying that while Ford’s involvement following the car’s promise at Le Mans in 1963 was a financial godsend, the resulting GT40 was “a backward step” as it was heavy and he would rather have continued with his own design. But Ford had the cash he needed.

Starkey sketches out the negotiations and politics during the dance of the two partners using a lot of Ford material; there are some lovely early sketches and mock-ups for the new GT, including one with a flip-up cabin lid; Broadley had to point out that if it rolled no one could get out. Life stories of all three Mk6s finish off the story, with photos of Grant’s in restoration. At the time Ford attempted to gloss over the Lola input but this book makes the influence clear. GC

Veloce, £35
ISBN 9781787117839