Who in the Netherlands isn’t familiar with Max Verstappen? At 18, this F1 driver is arguably the nation’s most celebrated athlete. But, what’s the story behind his cognitive prowess? Through various pieces, I’ll connect theory with his performance on track.Read more: Max Verstappen: Young Genius on the F1 Circuit
Age vs. Performance in Sports
Max stepped into Formula 1 at 17, making history as its youngest driver. Age, though, is just a number, right? We see soccer players rise to fame at this age every season. However, from a cognitive standpoint, age might play a role. Professor Jelle Jolles, in an interview with Volkskrant, remarked: “A 17-year-old is typically more impulsive than a 25-year-old. This impulsiveness can be advantageous, leading to riskier strategies that might win races, but it might also result in mishaps.” To assess risks, one needs experience. Whether Max possesses it or not, Jolles didn’t speculate. But he did mention that some teenagers might have a mostly matured brain due to their experiences, allowing talent to flourish.
Brain Development & Racing Strategy
The brain continues to mature till about 25. This might explain Max’s impulsive reactions. Consider the Hungarian race where Max prevented Kimi Räikkönen from overtaking. NOS Journalist Louis Dekker predicts this rivalry will only intensify: “They know each other’s tactics now. Räikkönen is provoked and will do everything to surpass him. There’s a real chance they might clash on the track. The question isn’t if Max will crash, but when. And if he does, Räikkönen might join him.”
Is this due to his youthful age or an underdeveloped brain? Perhaps his executive system, which dictates our daily choices and is often employed in sports, is so well-trained that his actions are deliberate. Hence, Max’s moves could be attributed to a clear strategy.
A Result of a ‘Young’ or ‘Genius’ Brain?
In my view, it’s a blend. His youthful brain allows for impulsive actions, while his executive system aids in strategy formulation during races. This combination makes him an exceptional F1 talent. More on Max’s brain in upcoming pieces.