Born on this day (22nd - May)
1895 - 1941
1907 - 1989
1915 - 1993
1929 - 2001
Died on this day (22nd - May)
1881 - 1913
He started karting at the age of 8, and was participating in (national) competitions not long after. In 1984 he became Dutch junior champion. He remained successful, and won two European titles and a large number of international races in 1989.
At the end of 1991 he made the transition to car racing after . He drove in the Formula Opel Lotus, a class in which identical cars are raced. He immediately won the European championship, and got an offer to drive Formula 3. During that European winter season, he raced in New Zealand Formula Atlantics. While in German Formula 3 he won several international competitions, including the 1993 Marlboro Masters and the German Formula 3 championship.
In 1994 he was hired as a testing and backup driver in the Benetton team. After a test crash by J.J. Lehto (who broke a neck vertebra) he drove in several races as a regular driver from the start of the season, beside Michael Schumacher. Verstappen made his debut in the Benetton Formula 1 team during the Grand Prix of Brazil. During the race he was torpedoed by Eddie Irvine during an overtake. Verstappen somersaulted, but emerged unharmed.
During a pitstop in the GP of Germany at the Hockenheimring, gasoline was spilled on heated car parts, setting the car with Verstappen in it ablaze for a brief period. As was usual at the time, the visor of his helmet was open, and he walked away with slight burn wounds to his nose. Since then, drivers keep their visors closed during refuels.
A high point in 1994 was Verstappen's 3rd place during the Grand Prix in Hungary. A curiosity was his accident during a training session for the GP of France in Magny-Cours, in which Verstappen rammed his car into the pits wall, causing debris to fly and destroy a TV installation. Due to this accident, this equipment is now protected from the race track by plexiglass in contemporary setups.
For the last two races, Verstappen was replaced by Johnny Herbert.
In 1995 he was stationed by his Benetton teamboss Flavio Briatore at Simtek. Despite some strong showings Jos only finished once in the five races he drove for Simtek. The team had financial troubles and went bankrupt after the Grand Prix of Monaco. After the Simtek debacle Jos did some testing with Benetton and Ligier.
In 1996 he drove for the Arrows team, and though he drove well, engine troubles prevented him from making a splash on the stage. During the GP of Belgium a part of the suspension of Verstappen's car broke off, causing him to hit the railing hard. He ended up with a prolonged neck injury. If it had not been for the raised cockpit edges introduced that year, Verstappen might not have survived the accident.
In 1997 he went to the Tyrrell-Ford team, but didn't score. He was dropped by the team at the end of the season after Tyrrell's new owners (British American Racing) opted for Ricardo Rossett's millions rather than the talent of Verstappen. However Stewart Grand Prix came to the rescue, as Jos was drafted in for the last 9 races of the season 1998 after Jan Magnussen had been shown the door, and was a test driver for the Benetton team earlier on in that same year, but the latter would not hire him as a permanent test driver for lack of sponsors.
For 1999 everything seemed to go in the right direction for Verstappen. Near the end of 1998 Jos became the testdriver for the Honda Formula 1 project. Jos teamed up with old Tyrrell friends Rupert Manwaring and Harvey Postlethwaite, testing in 1999 and participating from the year 2000 and on. All went well for the Honda testteam until at one day the driving force behind the project, Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite, died of a hart-attack. Not long after this happened Honda changed their plans from becoming a fully factoryteam to just an engine-supplier and Jos was again without a seat.
In 2000 he returned to Arrows, at that moment a promising team. The promise wasn't made good on, though; the many technical problems plagued not only Verstappen but also his teammates Pedro de la Rosa and Enrique Bernoldi. During the 2001 season Jos had some very good races but at the Brazilian Grand Prix there was a non-racing incident in which Verstappen put Juan Pablo Montoya, who was leading at the time, out of the race. The Arrows proved to be fast, but quite unreliable. Jos finished the season with a contract for the next season but is ultimately put aside in favor of the better funded Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Not waiting for things to come Jos starts looking for another team in 2002. He had almost signed a testcontract with Sauber but the they found out that Jos is to large for the small Sauber C21. Funny enough another driver fits perfectly. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who prematurely left the now ill-fated Arrows-team.
In 2003 Verstappen drove for European Minardi, a team which rarely scores points. He made an impression several times with the reliable but very slow Minardi, but left the Italian Formula 1 team because he didn't feel like driving in the rear guard for another year.
Verstappen participated in 107 grands prix. He achieved 2 podiums, and scored a total of 17 championship points.
Jos is currently the driver of the A1 Netherlands team managed by seatholder Jan Lammers's Racing for Holland, for the A1 Grand Prix series, winning the feature race at Durban.
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