Formula One world champion Max Verstappen was snubbed when he tried to hire a high-performance car on holiday — as he was too young.
The 26-year-old Dutch ace — used to racing at well over 320km/h — was denied access to the Mercedes, which has a top speed of 313km/h.
Staff at car rental firm Sixt said that allowing Verstappen — who won his first Grand Prix aged 18 — to take the AMG GT motor would have breached its insurance policy as he is under 30.
The Red Bull racer, who this season won his third consecutive F1 world championship, instead had to make do with a less powerful BMW 5 Series.
He flew to the Algarve in Portugal with family and friends on three private jets last Monday.
The party had rented around 20 cars from Sixt at Faro Airport and hired the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve racing circuit for two days before Verstappen flew on to Brazil.
“Max and the group went to Portugal for a fun racing trip and had booked the cars they wanted,” a source said.
“When they got to the airport, Max was shocked when he was told he wasn’t allowed to drive the Mercedes he wanted.
“He’s a seasoned F1 driver who’s used to handling powerful cars, so it’s quite astonishing to think he wasn’t allowed to get behind the wheel of this one — but those are the rules, so he abided by them.”
Verstappen, who has hit a top speed of 342km/h in his RB19 F1 car, had picked out the Mercedes AMG GT, which can do up to 316km/h.
The BMW he was eventually given can cruise at up to 250km/h.
His manager Raymond Vermeulen ended up driving the Mercedes.
Belgium-born Verstappen has won 54 races and made the podium 98 times in his F1 career.
He has raced for Red Bull since 2016 and is said to have earned $80 million this year alone.
He began karting aged four and was competing in championships at seven. Dad Jos, 51, was also an F1 driver.
Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan has said of Verstappen: “I believe he will turn out to be the greatest driver of all time.”
A Sixt spokesman said: “The employees of our franchise partner in Portugal have only followed the rules that arise for insurance reasons.
“In order to find a customer-friendly solution on site, Mr Verstappen was provided with another premium vehicle.
“However, there can be special circumstances that justify a deviation from rules. This is such a case.
“We apologise to Mr Verstappen. He can rent the car he wants from us at any time.
“There is of course no doubt at all about his driving skills and his experience with powerful cars.”
In August, Verstappen appeared to break the speed limit while driving a $4.3 million Aston Martin Valkyrie supercar through a tunnel in France.
A video showed him to seemingly be at 117km/h on a 90km/h road.
This video originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.