Max Verstappen matches Lewis Hamilton?

Max Verstappen is now an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Max Verstappen has been given the Dutch equivalent to a knighthood, being made an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Netherlands.

Verstappen has become one of the biggest names in the Netherlands since joining the Formula 1 grid with Toro Rosso in 2015.

With his performances, he has single-handedly made F1 one of the biggest, most popular sports in his home country.

Before he burst onto the scene, there wasn’t a huge amount of Dutch interest in the sport, with drivers such as Christijan Albers and Giedo van der Garde enjoying little success and fans being relatively scarce. 

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Things couldn’t be more different now though with Verstappen becoming the first Dutch driver to win a race, the first to claim a pole position and the first to become World Champion, with him winning a titanic battle with Sir Lewis Hamilton last year.

As a result of that success, the Dutch F1 fanbase is one of the biggest and most passionate around, with the Orange Army taking over the grandstands at the races in the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria in particular to support him.

His status as something of a national hero has now been recognised by the monarchy, with the Red Bull driver made an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

It’s a huge honour, comparable to being knighted in the United Kingdom as Hamilton was two years ago.

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The Dutchman specifically thanked all of his native fans when speaking about receiving the award.

“It is a great honour to receive this appointment,” he said.

“I am very thankful to my family and close friends for their support, from my very first racing years until now. 

“I also want to thank Red Bull and my personal sponsors. Without all this support I would not be where I am today. 

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“In addition, I want to thank my fans worldwide, and in particular the Orange Army. Their encouragements time after time are overwhelming and it is incredible to see so many Dutch people involved in the sport. 

“I am looking forward immensely to my home race this coming weekend, the Dutch Grand Prix.”

Verstappen looks all but certain to become an even bigger legend in the next few months with him leading the 2022 championship comfortably.

Unless things go catastrophically wrong for him, he’ll surely become a two-time World Champion in Abu Dhabi, and probably much earlier.