Max Verstappen’s popularity has gone through the roof in recent years with the F1 star having a queue of admirers which include the Dutch royal family. Sky Sports F1 expert Karun Chandhok has explained how some of the Netherlands’ highest-ranking personnel were waiting in excitement to meet their hero.
Verstappen became the first Dutch F1 world champion when he beat Lewis Hamilton to the crown in Abu Dhabi.
The Red Bull star is often backed at races by his travelling contingent of supporters heavily dressed in orange.
They have on occasion booed Hamilton as tension built up during the closely-fought title race – none louder than at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Verstappen was always expected to have the majority of support at his home race in September and he crossed the chequered flag in first place, 20 seconds ahead of Hamilton to delight his fellow countrymen.
The overwhelming support shocked Chandhok and he explained how even the Dutch royal family wanted a piece of the action.
“There’s no question in my mind Max was a deserving world champion,” Chandhok told Sky Sports.
“In 18 of the 19 races he finished, Verstappen was either first or second, which is a remarkable record of consistently superb performances, especially when you consider this was a 24-year-old coping with the pressure of his first World Championship battle.
“Zandvoort was a particular highlight as it was a home race which was basically put together because of him.
“I’ve never been to a race where 99 per cent of the crowd were cheering for one driver.
“Of course, the king was watching over with the royal family, so it’s an incredible feeling to win in front of the fans,” Verstappen said.
“It’s a wonderful day.”