Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen steps out of his car after being confirmed as a three-time F1 World Champion. AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

Max Verstappen may be a three-time Formula 1 World Champion, but that did not stop a car rental company from denying him the chance to rent a Mercedes sports car while he was on holiday with friends and family in Portugal.

The reason? He was said to be too young. The 26-year-old Red Bull Racing star apparently did not meet the requirements set by car rental firm Sixt.

This may seem quite bizarre to racing fans from all over the world, but it turns out that the company's insurance policy has restricted them from renting out high-performance cars to individuals who are below 30 years old.

Why was Verstappen trying to drive a Mercedes sports car?

Over the recent holidays, Verstappen reportedly flew to the popular resort town of the Algarve in Portugal to enjoy some time off from the gruelling F1 season. Ironically, the reigning world champion decided to spend his vacation doing the same thing.

He and a group of friends and family members flew on three private jets and landed in Portugal to get right back on a race track. According to a report by The Sun, Verstappen and Co rented a local racing circuit called the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. They had reportedly planned to have some fun burning rubber by renting about 20 vehicles from Sixt, which has an office at the Faro Airport.

For those unaware, Formula 1 cars such as Verstappen's Red Bull can reach top speeds above 200mph. For this "fun" drive around the circuit in Portugal, he had wanted to take it easy by renting a Mercedes AMG GT. The vehicle that Verstappen fancied reportedly has a top speed of 195mph, which is impressive but pales in comparison to the kind of machinery that the Dutch champion is used to.

However, employees at Sixt did not bend the rules for the Red Bull star. Instead, he was reportedly offered a BMW 5 Series. While the BMW is still an impressive vehicle to drive, it only has a top speed of 155.3mph. Nevertheless, Verstappen did not make a fuss and accepted his fate, no matter how hilarious it may seem.

Meanwhile, the group still rented the Mercedes AMG GT and Verstappen's manager, Raymond Vermeulen, was able to get behind the wheel. It is unclear if Verstappen's partner, Kelly Piquet, who is 35 years old, attempted to drive the Mercedes.

Fans found the situation particularly amusing because it was revealed that Verstappen was trying to drive a Mercedes. Those familiar with his Formula 1 career would know that the Mercedes AMG F1 Team are considered to be Red Bull's biggest rivals.

Red Bull had a very successful streak of Drivers' and Constructors' Championship wins between 2010-2013 with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel. Then, Mercedes strung together seven Drivers' titles with Lewis Hamilton (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020) and Nico Rosberg (2016). They also won eight consecutive Constructors' titles from 2014 to 2021.

Verstappen has dominated the past three seasons with consecutive Drivers' Championship wins with Red Bull, while the Austrian team managed to snatch the Constructors' title away from Mercedes in 2022 and 2023.

It may also be remembered that Verstappen has had a heated rivalry with Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton for several years, with their battle back in 2021 leading to a number of on-track collisions. Despite his interest in the Mercedes road car, it will probably be unlikely that he holds the same interest in driving a Mercedes F1 car. The Red Bull was extremely dominant in the past two seasons, with both Mercedes cars frequently finishing several seconds behind Verstappen.

As for the rental snub, a spokesman from Sixt explained: "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, they admitted that the situation with the world champion could have warranted an exception. "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."