Why a 20-year-old just might be the most popular driver on the planet

Mercedes racing driver Lewis Hamilton spoke for a lot of us when he was leading the drivers’ standings at the beginning of the season in March 2018.

“It’s amazing how the pressure can actually bring out the best in you,” Hamilton said at the Australian Grand Prix.

What you saw was utterly and completely why the 33-year-old Hamilton is so good at what he does. He was seemingly superhuman, he was virtually unmeasurable, and it was as if he didn’t care.

So, too, was 20-year-old Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Verstappen already had much going for him in the sport. After taking the lead in the rankings in the first race of his rookie season — in which he finished eighth and qualified third, in front of Hamilton and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo — Verstappen shocked the world at the penultimate race of the 2018 campaign.

He made it to the lead of the championship on the final lap, finishing fourth at the Mexican Grand Prix to essentially crown himself champion of a fourth consecutive season of Red Bull winning the constructors’ championship.

Like Hamilton, Verstappen wasn’t taunted. He didn’t get daredevil; he didn’t say “what, me worry?” He simply rolled with the punches. Like, um, yes. That was enough to make him almost the absolute stoic everyone knows and loves.

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