Sir Lewis got knighted? Well, the Dutch monarchy thinks Verstappen should be, too.
Regular readers will know that we always refer to the most successful F1 driver by his full name and title, Sir Lewis Hamilton. This shows respect for a well-earned title bestowed on him by his home country. Sure, it doesn't count for much in America, but F1 does not belong to the USA. It's a global sport, and as such, we respect titles.
Until today, Sir Lewis Hamilton was the F1 driver with the highest ranking title. But now that honor belongs to Max Verstappen, who has just been appointed as an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Much like a British knighthood, the Order of Orange-Nassau is a civil and military Dutch order of chivalry. The Minister for Sport, Conny Helder, awarded Verstappen with his royal decoration.
Like Britain, the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, which means it has a prime minister who does all the hard graft and a king who just smiles and waves.
We did a lot of digging into the orders of the British and Dutch monarchies and discovered a fascinating fact. There are several similarities between Dutch and English titles, which makes sense. The Order of Orange-Nassau was only founded in 1892 under the order of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. It only makes sense that the Dutch system borrowed slightly from the British system, which has been used for hundreds of years.
Max Verstappen has been appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, which outranks Sir Lewis Hamilton, a Knight Bachelor with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). MBE ranks fifth and lowest in the British order, while Officer ranks fourth in the Dutch order, above both Member and Knight. Ergo, Max Verstappen officially outranks Lewis Hamilton in Europe. Both on and off the track.
This little factlet is bound to upset the hardcore Lewis Hamilton fans. Since the start of 2021, Verstappen and Hamilton fans have been locked in a constant battle. The 2021 season was particularly heated as a result of several controversial incidents. Hamilton ended Verstappen's race at Silverstone, and Verstappen paid back the favor at Monza. The heated struggle finally ended at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Verstappen was crowned the 2021 F1 World Champion. Or the human error champion, as rabid Hamilton fans have been screaming from the rooftops ever since.
The two exceptional drivers have made peace with each other since. They'll never be on each other's Christmas card list, but their behavior toward each other has been nothing but respectable. We'd go as far as saying that both men have been nothing but classy this season.
Although the Dutch prefer not to use titles, the correct word is Meneer (Sir, but in Dutch). After Meneer Max Verstappen's win last week, we would have made him the King of the Netherlands. Red Bull made changes to his engine, which resulted in grid penalties. He qualified 1st but was dropped down to 14th because of a convoluted set of penalties for multiple drivers. At the start of the race, he effectively moved one spot up on the grid after Gasly started from the pits. From there, it took Meneer Max 12 laps to work his way to the front, and he was driving with such tenacity that he made it look like everyone else was driving a Honda Civic Type R.
As luck would have it, the next race this weekend is in Max's home country of the Netherlands at Zandvoort, where Max won convincingly last year. The timing could not have been more perfect for Max to be given his new title.
In addition to the prestige of the title, Max has also been awarded Dutch race license #1 by the Knac National Motorsport Federation (KNAF). "What an achievement, what an impressive career, and what an ambassador you are for our country and our sport," said KNAF president Jan de Wit.
After receiving the award, Max said, "It is a great honor to receive this appointment. 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. 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."
The only question left to ask is whether Sir Lewis will bow or salute Meneer Max this weekend?