The forgotten story of Hamilton's first race against a Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton's rivalry with Max Verstappen was one of the biggest stories of 2021. For the seven-time world champion it was only the latest occasion he has faced off against Dutch motorsport's most famous name, having taken on 2021 champion Verstappen's dad as an 11-year-old in an indoor kart race at Birmingham's NEC.
If you think the paddock in Melbourne for the opening race of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship was the first time a Hamilton, Verstappen and Magnussen were getting suited-and-booted and ready to race together, you’d be wrong. In January 1996, at Autosport International in the halls of the NEC, those three names were on the entry list.
At that time Kevin Magnussen was just three years old, and Max Verstappen was still a twinkle in his dad’s eye. This, instead, was 11-year-old Lewis Hamilton versus Jos Verstappen and Jan Magnussen. The event was a pro-media kart race, and the stars came out. You may think it was fun, but give a pro driver a go-kart and a helmet and the competition genes step forward without prompting. But that event also showed that there was someone special in among the stars of the day.
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