Jos Verstappen

Full Name: 
Johannes Franciscus Verstappen
Birth Date: 
4 March, 1972
Birth Place: 
Montfort, Netherlands
Driver Status: 
Driver Height: 
Driver Weight: 

Jos Verstappen Biography

Jos Verstappen F1 Career Overview

While Jos Verstappen’s legacy in F1 lives somewhat vicariously through the sensational success of his record-breaking son Max Verstappen, his efforts - and incidents - during the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s remain part of the folklore… albeit not always for the right reasons.

A child of Europe’s burgeoning feeder series’ - that had bred the likes of Michael Schumacher before him - Verstappen captured attention with success in the German F3 Championship and the Marlboro Masters of F3 at his home Zandvoort circuit, earning him a number of F1 tests by the end of 1993.

Leading to a test driver role with Benetton, he ended up contesting much of the season with the title-winning outfit in place JJ Lehto, but an erroneous loan to the soon-to-be-disbanded Simtek outfit left him out of a drive for much of 1995 and thereafter he struggled to land top seats.

Despite his evident talents, “Jos the Boss” became known as a prolific midfielder at best in mediocre machinery spending stints at Footwork, Tyrrell, Stewart, Arrows and Minardi before calling time on his F1 career at the conclusion of the 2003 season with only two podiums to his name

Thereafter he found some success representing The Netherlands in the A1 Grand Prix series, as well as sportscars, before turning his attentions to honing the talents of Max Verstappen, who made history as the youngest person to both start an F1 race (17 years, 166 days) and win (18 years, 228 days) at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

Among the most notorious moments of his career was the shocking fire that engulfed both himself and his Benetton during a pit-stop in the 1994 Grand Prix, caused by the fuel rig getting loose and dousing the car in fuel before it caught alight in dramatic circumstances.

Jos Verstappen F1 Career - Team-by-Team

Benetton: 1994

With his German F3 victory earning him a test with Footwork Arrows towards the end of 1993, Verstappen’s rapid pace at Estoril - completing a lap that would have landed him fourth on the grid, far higher than the cars had managed all season - made him a hot property among the majority of the grid with a bidding war being launched to secure his services.

In the end, Verstappen put pen to paper on a testing role with Benetton in the hope it would lead to a 1995 F1 drive in what would become the fastest car on circuit in the hands of Michael Schumacher.

However, he was upgraded to a race seat ahead of the season opening Brazilian Grand Prix in place of the injured JJ Lehto, qualifying ninth, albeit two seconds behind Schumacher. However, his hopes of points were dashed in a spectacular incident when Eddie Irvine’s aggressive defence of position forced Verstappen onto the grass and into a spin that took out Irvine and the Ligier of Eric Bernard. 

Launching Verstappen into a barrel roll, he collected the innocent Martin Brundle up the road, the McLaren driver’s head almost being clipped as the Benetton somersaulted over it. No-one was injured, but Irvine picked up a three-race ban. 

With Lehto primed for a return at Round 3, Verstappen blotted his copybook with a spin on cold tyres in the following Pacific Grand Prix, seemingly bringing an unsatisfactory end to his brief tenure. However, with Lehto failing to impress on his return, he was benched and Verstappen was called up again from Round 7.

In his third race back, Verstappen was involved in arguably one of F1’s most photographed moments when during the German Grand Prix a faulty rig came loose as he was being refuelled. Splashing the entire car - plus Verstappen with fuel - the hot engine ignited it in a fireball that engulfed the Dutchman sat in his car, as well as several members of the Benetton team. Quickly extinguished, some members suffered burns, though Verstappen got away with only burns to his nose, the legacy of having opened his visor slightly to allow cool air through.

Back on the track, while Schumacher was dominating out front, Verstappen struggled to get close to him and after breaking his points duck with a run to third in Hungary and then again in Belgium, they would prove the scant highlights and Verstappen was dropped for Johnny Herbert for the final two events.

Simtek: 1995

Loaned to Simtek for 1995, which had only made its debut the previous year and earned notoriety for Roland Ratzenberger’s tragic death at imola, the British team produced a tidy Nick Wirth-designed chassis, but it was underpowered and underfunded.

This meant it was classed (perhaps unfairly) as a perennial backmarker with the likes of Pacific and Forti, but in Verstappen’s hands there were flashes of promise, notably his 14th place starting position in Argentina and a gritty drive to 12th in Spain in what would become the team’s final outing. 

Indeed, the coffers had run dry and though Japanese pay driver Hideki Noda was poised to take up a seat alongside Verstappen to keep the team afloat, the 1995 Kobe Earthquake subsequently saw him withdraw the offer and the team folded ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

1996: Footwork Arrows

Spending the remainder of the 1995 season on testing duties with Benetton and Ligier, Verstappen mounted a comeback for 1996 with the Footwork (Arrows) team with which he originally tested in 1993 to land a full-time berth in 1994.

With three teams (Simtek, Pacific and eventually Forti/Shannon) dropping off the grid, Footwork found itself mired in the lower reaches of the field with Minardi. Verstappen did land what would be the team’s only points’ finish (a sixth in Argentina) but poor reliability consigned him to just four finishes all season. He was also hampered by a persistent neck injury, the legacy of a crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Tyrrell: 1997

For 1997, Verstappen was originally set to remain with the team - which reverted to the more commonly used Arrows name - under the insistence of Tom Walkinshaw, whose TWR outfit had taken over from Footwork midway through the 1996 campaign. 

However, the surprise availability of 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill prompted a change of heart from Walkinshaw, who dropped Verstappen instead of the incoming Pedro Diniz due to the Brazilian’s deep pockets.

Instead, Verstappen switched to Tyrrell which would arguably prove a relative match for the similarly underperforming Arrows in terms of competitiveness. However, it was a disappointing season for the increasingly ailing British team and scored just once all year (a fifth place in Monaco for Mika Salo), with Vertsappen failing to get off the mark.

Stewart: 1998

With no drive for 1998, Verstappen busied himself with testing duties at Benetton once again before getting a mid-season call-up to replace an out-of-favour Jan Magnussen at Stewart.

Ironically, the announcement came just as Magnussen broke his points duck in Canada after a point-less season and a half with the Ford-backed team in what was an uncompetitive car, even in the experienced hands of Rubens Barrichello. Verstappen didn’t bring much else to the party and results continued to be ruined by the car’s woeful reliability which saw its two machines finish just 16 times in 72 starts.

Honda: 1999

Left without a drive for 1999 again, Verstappen's sheer experience and testing miles with Benetton nonetheless earned him an opportunity to help develop Honda’s burgeoning F1 project, headed up developed by ex-Tyrrell pairing Rupert Mainwaring and Harvey Postlethwaite.

An early prototype of the Honda RA099 proved strikingly quick out of the box with Verstappen producing lap times that would have placed it in the podium mix with the likes of Williams and Benetton at the time. 

With the Dutchman angling for what would have been a dream full factory drive for 2000, Postlethwaite’s sudden death from a heart attack during a testing session in Spain would derail team’s hopes with Honda pulling the plug on the project to instead supply customer engines to BAR and Jordan.

Arrows: 2000-2001

Verstappen returned to Arrows for 2000 - now resplendent in its distinctive new Orange-livery - and found a surprisingly competitive machine with a compact, agile A21 chassis boosted by the addition of pacey Supertec-engines used to podium-winning effect by Williams the previous year.

Competitive out of the box to haul Arrows onto the cusp of the top ten in qualifying, strong initial results went by the wayside early on owing to the car’s disappointing reliability. Flashes of form would see Verstappen prove his most competitive in six years but by mid-season Arrows was slipping back in the development race.

Nonetheless, Verstappen notched up his and Arrows’ best results for some years with a fifth place in the Canadian Grand Prix and then fourth at the Italian Grand Prix, earning 12th in the final standings.

Staying on for 2001, an increasingly financially-troubled Arrows switched to Peugeot-power under the Asiatech brand, which had bought the rights to the factory-built unit in the wake of the French firm’s exit. Arguably slower than the Supertecs they replaced - despite being younger - they were nonetheless a cheap market option after failing to score a single point in 2000 powering Prost.

While Arrows once again did a good job of building a tidy chassis in the A22 to mitigate the Asiatech engine’s deficiencies during the early part of the season, it once again slipped back down the order as the year progressed.

When the stars aligned there were flashes of excitement, namely Verstappen running second on merit in a weather-affected Malaysian Grand Prix but slipping back with a ‘splash and dash’ when the hope of more safety cars failed to materialise. He did, however, not endear himself to many when he took out race leader Juan Pablo Montoya as he was being lapped at the Brazilian Grand Prix in an incident that echoed (albeit in reverse) his debut back in 1994. 

Verstappen and Arrows’ sole points’ finish would come with a top six result in Austria, though it’s worth noting Verstappen - buoyed by decent reliability - would have fared well under the modern point-scoring system after finishing inside the top ten on eight occasions.

Minardi: 2003

With Arrows keeping pay driver Enrique Bernoldi and hiring Heinz-Harald Frentzen - before folding mid-season anyway - Verstappen almost joined Sauber, only to find he didn’t fit in the car and was duly benched for the 2002 campaign. 

He returned in 2003 with the ailing (but plucky) Minardi, by now comfortably F1’s tail-end team, and suffered for its lack of competitiveness, regularly qualifying at the back with a sizeable difference to the next slowest car. However, he compared well to highly-rated Justin Wilson in the sister car and then to Nicholas Kiesa when he replaced the Briton. No points followed and Verstappen subsequently slipped off F1’s radar until Max made his F1 debut in 2015.

Jos Verstappen - Beyond F1

In the wake of his F1 exit, Verstappen turned up as arguably the most high-profile driver competing in the new A1 Grand Prix in the all-orange Team Netherlands car. Spending the entire season driving the car, unlike other ‘nations’ which split duties between two drivers, Verstappen won once at Durban to take Netherlands to seventh overall.

Thereafter he focused on sportscar racing and made a successful bid for the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours with LMP2 class victory in an all-Dutch line-up of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Peter van Merksteijn Sr in the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS Spyder. He finished 13th overall in the LMP1 Aston Martin-Lola B09/60 sharing driving duties with Brits Anthony Davidson and Darren Turner. 

Beyond racing, Verstappen hasn’t steered too far from controversies in his personal life, including receiving a five-year suspended sentence (only achieved after an out of court settlement) when an incident at a karting circuit left a man with a fractured skull. He also been charged with assaulting his wife (Max’s mother Sophie Kumpen) and viiolating a probation order, as well as face allegations of assault and attempted murder against girlfriend Kelly van der Waal, though they went on to reconcile and marry in 2014 before divorcing in 2017.