'Super Max' Verstappen sparks joy in Netherlands - GulfToday

'Super Max' Verstappen sparks joy in Netherlands


Spectators celebrate as Max Verstappen clinches the World Championship title in the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as they watch the race on screens in Breda, Netherlands, on Sunday. AP

Max Verstappen fans erupted in joy in the Netherlands after the Dutchman won the first Formula One title of his career in a winner-takes-all last lap at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The fans rode a rollercoaster of emotions in the Bar Club 188 in the Hague, as pole position holder Verstappen saw Lewis Hamilton blast past him in the opening seconds of the race.

Just when it seemed Hamilton had secured his eighth world title, a crash involving Nicholas Latifi effectively set up a one-lap race for the title between Verstappen and Hamilton that the 24-year-old Dutchman won.

"What an unbelievable end. I have lost my voice," Tom Alsem, 30, said, his eyes glued to a TV screen showing the driver nicknamed "Super Max" hugging his Red Bull team mechanics in Abu Dhabi.

Like the Verstappen fans following the race in the Gulf, Alsem was dressed head to toe in orange.

His friends dashed to the bar to order a new round of beers, before toasting their idol with cries of "Oh Max!".

"A historic day for Dutch sport," tweeted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after what he called "a bizarre race." "Max Verstappen, congratulations for this phenomenal performance. Really fantastic," he added.

In the orange-decked bar in the Hague and in a cafe in Zandvoort near the circuit where the Dutch Grand Prix is held, the fans had a nerve-shredding day.

Spectators-Formula1 Max Verstappen fans celebrate in a cafe in Breda, Netherlands, on Sunday. AP

"I hope he'll win but Hamilton often gets a bit of luck at the crucial moments," keen F1 fan Paul Meester, 61, told AFP as he watched the start of the race in the Hague. Two hours later, he said: "I told my friend he won't win, it's finished."

But within minutes, the race had turned on its head and Verstappen took the chequered flag.

Niels, 34, said at the start of the race he had a bad feeling because "Max is so unpredictable...he could lose it in a rush of blood."

By the end, he was hailing Verstappen's "immense performance", saying it was one of the greatest moments ever in the history of Dutch sport, normally dominated by football.

The best-known player in the Dutch team, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, tweeted: "WHAT A BOSS."

Agence France-Presse

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