Jos Verstappen

The very popular former grand Prix driver Jos Verstappen is will be celebrating his freedom and his 40th birthday today!

Few outside of motorsport circles had actually heard of Jos Verstappen when he made his Formula 1 debut in 1994 with less than 50 car races to his name.

A demon in karting, Verstappen leapt straight into German Formula 3 and won the title at his first attempt, attracting the attention of the Arrows team, with whom he had a test an set impressive times. McLaren was interested in his services as a test driver for 1994, but Flavio Briatore snatched the Dutchman at the eleventh hour.

And to continue this stellar rise, the 22-year-old found himself making his debut when JJ Lehto injured his neck before the season-opening race at Brazil. His debut would not be one to remember, for he was involved in a four-car pile-up for which he was blameless, but worse would happen when he was lucky to escape with just minor burns when his car caught fire during a pit stop at the German Grand Prix.

Verstappen was involved in a frightening four-car pile-up on his F1 debut Verstappen's infamous pit fire, 1994 German Grand Prix

A fortnight later, he took his first podium at Hungary, and matched the result at the next race in Belgium when team-mate Schumacher was disqualified – they would be his only two podium finishes in a lengthy career.

Sadly, ‘Joss the Boss’ would never hit the same giddy heights, but he earned huge acclaim with a mix of bravado, demon race starts, incredible skill in wet weather, and the tendency for the occasional accident. Fans never knew precisely which version of Jos would turn up on any given weekend, but it was always fun to watch.

Spells with Simtek, Arrows, Tyrrell, Stewart and Minardi, the Dutchman showed many flashes of raw talent that simply needed better equipment and a firmer hold on the reins to achieve greater success.

Equally fun to watch in A1GP after he retired from Formula 1 at the end of 2003, Jos now runs his own karting school and manages the burgeoning talent of his son, Max, who is touted as the Netherlands next serious F1 prospect, at all of the tender age of fifteen!

More recently, Jos was in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons, when he was arrested for the alleged attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend earlier this year. The charges were later dropped.

[Images via Flickr, LAT, Sutton Images, The Cahier Archive, XPB]

Check out our Jos Verstappen feature articles below:

Top-10 Countdowns 

Top-10 'And They Never Led a Lap'
CLICK HERE to meet the drivers with the longest F1 careers without ever leading a race!
Top-10 Pit Lane Blunders
CLICK HERE to read about the biggest pit lane stuff-ups in the history of Formula 1!
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.