It didn’t take long for Max Verstappen to exceed his fathers achievements in F1, but that’s not to say that Jos wasn’t a good driver.
Although his debut season at Benetton alongside Schumacher didn’t go brilliantly, after that he frequently showed throughout his career that he was a very talented driver, if a little rough around the edges. Here are six races where ‘Jos the Boss’ showed his class.
1995 Argentine GP
Verstappen was loaned to the tiny Simtek team by Benetton for the 1995 season and it didn’t take long for him to perform. At the second race of the year in Argentina he qualified a very impressive 14th, but went even better during the race and was up to an incredible 6th after 17 laps – ahead of Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari!
Sadly he dropped back after a very slow pitstop and then retired with gearbox failure. A few races later the team went bust, but in the short time he was with them he’d impressed.
1996 Brazilian GP
Jos joined the Footwork (Arrows) team for 1996 and continued to perform well. In the Brazilian Grand Prix he was sensational in the early stages, leaping from 13th on the grid up to 7th and was the fastest driver on the track. Unfortunately he was once again let down by the car as his engine failed after just 19 laps.
1996 proved to be a great year for Jos. In the following race in Argentina he out-qualified both McLarens to take 7th on the grid (his best ever) and finished a strong 6th. In the soaking wet Spanish Grand Prix he was one of the fastest drivers, setting the third fastest lap in the race, and he was chasing down Frentzen for 4th when he spun out of the race.
1997 Canadian GP
Despite his impressive performances for Arrows in 1996 the sudden availability of Damon Hill left Verstappen without his seat, and he joined the waning Tyrrell team for 1997. They only had V8 engines and spent much of the year jostling with Minardi at the back, but there were some promising races.
The Canadian Grand Prix was one of those races. Jos was renowned for being good at the start (in 1996 he gained places in every race but one) and he shot up from a season-best grid slot of 14th to 10th by the end of the first lap. Despite having a power disadvantage on a power circuit he continued to make places, making a ballsy pass on Barrichello (which he would definitely be penalised for today) and by lap 15 Jos was up to 6th. Later on that became 5th and he looked set for a sensational result, but bad luck struck again and he retired.
2000 Canadian GP
After half a season with Stewart and a year out testing for the aborted Honda F1 team project, Jos was back with a full time race seat in 2000, driving the gorgeous Orange Arrows.
It was a competitive package and Verstappen made the most of it in the wet Canadian Grand Prix, surging up to finish 5th in a late charge where he overtook several drivers.
His pass on Alex Wurz was particularly ballsy, as you can see from this onboard.
Two wheels on the grass! In the wet!
2001 Malaysian GP
Verstappen was well known as very handy wet-weather driver, but his performance in the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix was something else. After going from 18th to 6th on the first lap (yup, just the 12 places gained) he took advantage of a sudden rainstorm to run as high as 2nd at one point.
As the track dried he couldn’t help but slip back to 7th by the end, but not without putting up a great fight against like likes of Schumacher, Hakkinen and Frentzen. It was an amazing performance and Schumacher had nothing but praise for his former team-mate after the race.
The rest of the year was less sensational though, such as in the very next race where he crashed into Juan Pablo Montoya whilst being lapped, denying the Colombian victory. He was replaced by Frentzen for 2002 and after one final season with Minardi in 2003, his F1 career was over.
2006 South African A1GP
Jos found a seat with Team Netherlands for the inaugural A1GP season in 2005/06. Although it was a fairly unremarkable season there was one massive highlight, when he won the feature race in South Africa on the final lap having started from the back. It was his first win in motor racing for nearly 14 years.
That was his last year in single seaters and he then made the switch to endurance racing, where he won the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2008, as well as winning the LMP2 championship in the Le Mans Series.
Jos the Boss was far from being a great F1 driver, but on the right day, with the right car and, most importantly, with the right frame of mind, he was as talented as anyone. His son isn’t too bad either.