The three-time F1 champion’s father has courted controversy for his parenting style and has been forced to deny that he ever abused him.

But he admitted hitting his young son many years ago, before a race in England, on the helmet.

“He needed that,” Jos told TIME while pointing out that his son went on to win the race.

Jos, an ex-F1 driver who was once Michael Schumacher’s teammate, dedicated himself to his son’s aspirations of becoming a driver.

He built engines for Max’s karts and would drive 13 hours around Europe, ferrying his son to race tracks.

He would make Max practice as a child, even if rain forced his race to be cancelled and every other family had gone home.

Max says now: “From a young age, I saw other kids running around, playing, not really thinking about the future.

“But my dad, he had a plan. And I had to stick to the plan.

“Sometimes he thought I was a bit lazy. I definitely had arguments with my dad about it.”

His father detailed a notorious back-story from their past, when he left his young son deserted at a petrol station because he was so angry at him for crashing out of a race.

“He wanted to talk, I didn’t want to talk,” Jos explained. 

“So I said, ‘If you don’t shut up, I’ll send you out.’”

He would go back to collect his son, but the tale has been held against Jos ever since. He has defended himself against criticism of his parenting.