Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has been awarded the honor of being an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands.
The award, thought to be similar to an OBE or an MBE in the United Kingdom, is not the same as a knighthood – the closest thing to that in the Netherlands is to be a knight-marshal in the order of the Lion.
Verstappen claimed his maiden world championship last season, dramatically beating Sir Lewis Hamilton to the crown in Abu Dhabi in December.
The 24-year-old leads the title race by 93 points this year from team-mate Sergio Perez, with the Mexican’s win in Monaco adding to the nine achieved by Verstappen so far in 2022.
Verstappen perennially attracts droves of Dutch fans to multiple races in the year, most prominently the race weekends in Austria, Hungary, Belgium and, of course, his home race in the Netherlands.
That is where the paddock has headed this weekend, and a crowd of 195,000 turned up last year to watch Verstappen take victory at home.
That was the first race in Zandvoort for 36 years, and rarely has one Dutch athlete drawn in so much support, not just in their home country, but around the globe too.
To celebrate what he has already achieved, as well as what he is accomplishing right now, Verstappen has been honored in his home country ahead of the race in Zandvoort this weekend.
“Being appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau is an incredibly proud moment for me and came very unexpected for me so early in my career,” said Verstappen.
“I want to thank my family and loved ones, but also Red Bull who have been like a second family to me. We achieved this together.”
Verstappen was previously asked about Sir Lewis Hamilton’s knighthood, and he said that he would not need one to feel validated as a champion.
This honor from the Dutch government is not the be all and end all for the 24-year-old, and he would not be any less of a racing driver without it.
Being appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau is an incredibly proud moment for me and came very unexpected for me so early in my career.
I want to thank my family and loved ones, but also Red Bull who have been like a second family to me. We achieved this together. pic.twitter.com/V1JI7Xdixh
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 1, 2022
His comments referred to just that; Verstappen is aware that Hamilton’s knighthood does not make him any more or less of a racing driver, and it does not change Verstappen’s career either.
Some fans on social media, however, understood his comments to mean that he feels his title rival last year needs his honor to feel like a bona fide racing driver.
As a result, fresh toxicity was sent Verstappen’s way on social media when he made his announcement.
Standards seem to be quite low if this is awarded to a fraud.
— Justice #TeamLH #44 (@JusticeForLewiz) September 1, 2022
What happened to not wanting to become a Sir? That apparently the fraudulent title of an F1 World Champion was enough.
— Luca (@RedLuca56) September 1, 2022
I don't even know what this is, however, I do remember you denigrating Lewis being knighted by Prince Charles as if it was nothing. Lewis's knighthood is WAAAY more prestigious than whatever this appointment is…
— mariarduncan (@MariaRDuncan) September 2, 2022