Max Verstappen received plaudits from Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, for the award he received in the Netherlands on Thursday.
Verstappen won the world title last year in his sixth Formula 1 season at the age of just 24 years, dramatically defeating Sir Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.
Last season, the Dutch Grand Prix returned after 36 years away from the calendar, following years of a massive Dutch contingent supporting Verstappen in Austria, Hungary and, most prominently, Belgium.
The race was initially set to return in 2020 but, with no fans allowed to attend amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until 2021.
195,000 fans flocked to three days of beach partying last year, and they watched a bit of racing too as Verstappen claimed pole position and the race win in front of his adoring faithful.
The orange army looked on, inspired by their hero, as he became the first-ever Dutch world champion in Formula 1’s more than 70-year history.
Rarely has one Dutch athlete been so popularly revered, by Dutch fans and other nationalities alike, and the proud orange of the Netherlands has been represented brilliantly by the 29-time race winner.
Earlier this week, following his ninth win of 2022 at Spa, Verstappen was honoured in the Netherlands.
The 24-year-old was made an officer of the Order Orange-Nassau – it is roughly the equivalent of an OBE or MBE in the United Kingdom.
The Dutch government kindly explained to Formula1News.co.uk how the honouring system works in the Netherlands.
“There are two Dutch civilian orders of chivalry: the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands and the Order of Orange-Nassau,” they said in a Twitter message.
“These honours are conferred on persons who have rendered outstanding service to society.
“Candidates are nominated via the mayor of the municipality where they live. Foreign nationals may also receive an honour, for which they are nominated via the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“The Order of the Lion of the Netherlands is the oldest and highest civilian order of chivalry in the Netherlands. It was founded by King Willem I on 29 September 1815. There are three classes: Knight Grand Cross, Commander and Knight.
“This order is awarded for exceptional service to the community. The Order of Orange-Nassau is awarded for longstanding meritorious service to society, the State or the Royal House.
“The first five of the six classes are: Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight. Recipients of an award in the sixth class become members of the Order.”
During first practice at Zandvoort on Friday, Horner congratulated his driver on the award.
“Max, it’s Christian, just from everybody in the team, many, many congratulations on your honour yesterday and your national award,” said the team boss on the radio.
“We’re not quite sure what to call you, whether it’s Sir Max, Lord, Max or Super Max, but well done from everybody in the team.”
“Thanks mate, just call me Max like always!” Verstappen humbly replied.
The Dutchman went on to take pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix on Saturday, marginally ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
He converted pole into victory on Sunday to further extend his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.