Max Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver with Toro Rosso in 2015

2015 F1 season

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcEQZ1nnjr4

Max Verstappen, the 16-year-old Formula Three driver and son of former F1 racer Jos Verstappen, will make his Formula One debut for Toro Rosso next year.

Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014The team has confirmed Verstappen will drive for them next year alongside Daniil Kvyat, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.

Verstappen, who was signed to Red Bull junior programme last year, is currently in his first year driving single seaters having graduated from kart racing. He will be 17 when he makes his F1 debut, making him the youngest driver to compete in the world championship.

His rapid promotion to their Formula One programme moves him past the three other drivers on Red Bull’s young driver programme: Formula Renault 3.5 points leader Carlos Sainz Jnr, GP3 points leader Alex Lynn, and Pierre Gasly, currently third in Formula Renault 3.5.

Despite Verstappen’s lack of experience, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says Red Bull “consider Max to be as one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strength to take on this challenge successfully”.

“Bearing in mind that Scuderia Toro Rosso was created with the aim of bringing young talent from the Red Bull Junior Team into Formula One and to educate them,” Tost added, “it will now be up to us to provide Max with a competitive car, which will enable him to have the best possible start to his Formula One career”.

Tost added his thanks to Vergne, who will leave the team after his third year in F1. “He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season.”

“We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in Formula One.”

Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014Verstappen said: “First of all I would like to thank Dr Helmut Marko and Red Bull for all their trust and giving me the chance to make my Formula debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” he said. “Ever since I was seven years old, Formula One has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.”

“There are several people that have helped me throughout the years and still support me to this day and I want to sincerely thank them. First of all a big thanks to my father Jos, who has always been by my side, day and night, year after year.

“Of course I’m very thankful for all my sponsors who’ve believed in my talent and supported me in these financially difficult times. I hope that I can maintain a wonderful collaboration with them as I embark on this exciting new phase in my career. I also want to thank my manager Raymond Vermeulen, for all his efforts in making this agreement possible.

“Finally, thanks to all the teams in the various karting and single-seater categories for their vital help and support. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“We’ve all worked tremendously hard to reach Formula 1 and I will give my absolute best to be successful in the pinnacle of motorsport. With the return of the Verstappen name to Formula One, I hope we can relive old memories and I’m hoping to see many fans at all the grand prix circuits.”

Verstappen is poised to emulate his father by making a very early Formula One debut. Jos Verstappen had started 52 single-seater races when he started his first grand prix at Brazil in 1994. Max has competed in 40 races since graduating from karts last year.

See the updated list of 2015 F1 drivers and teams

In the video above Verstappen was speaking after joining Red Bull’s driver programme but before his F1 drive was announced.

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182 comments on Max Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver with Toro Rosso in 2015

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  1. franton said on 18th August 2014, 21:09

    Am I the only person who thinks that 16 is a bit too young for F1?

    • franton said on 18th August 2014, 21:09

      Sorry, make that 17. Reading fail.

      • Honestly, I think it should not be allowed by the FIA.

        • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 18th August 2014, 21:45

          Indeed, that’s way too young IMO. 18 should be the bare minimum.

          • Alex said on 19th August 2014, 9:01

            He is too young for f1 everybody knows it. Max Verstappen hasnt proved yet he is capable of competing in f1, he not even won the f3 he is second, he is only been 1 year in single seaters!! Vettel when he skipped GP2 or world series by renault he was doing only f1 testing for several years and he was doing at the same time the f3 championship for third year which he lost to Di Resta… But then with lot of experience in f1 he won 4 world titles, with one of the best cars in history of f1… Is he burn now? U never know with this youngsters that enter so fast the top competition. In motogp it happens that, the younger they enter the faster they burn. They enter with 15 or 16. With 28 they are burned and ready to go to lower competition to make their career more long. The case of Max Verstappen remembers me to the case of Jaime Alguersuari, which he entered without any important experience the f1, he did well, but when he was ready to step up for Mark Webber, they fear that Vettel dont win anymore, because Alguersuari could break the team chemistry (Buemi too), so they fired him from Toro Rosso and prepared 2 more unenexperienced drivers so they dont pressure Red Bull to change second driver.
            So the big question now is what will happen with the second seat of Toro Rosso, will Kvyat mantain the seat, or will they give it to Carlos Sainz jr (he is doing good in the world series by renault), or will Carlos go to Caterham? Strange decision of Toro Rosso i always though they pair of drivers was going to be Kvyat and Sainz jr. This breaks absolutely all… And what they seen in Max Verstappen to give him the Toro Rosso wheel from next year, may be he done some simulator and breaked all records of the youngsters… I dont know. But even with the best driver in years Lewis Hamilton, McLaren took sometime, and he make the debut in f1 after serious competition and wins in everything he competed, he made his debut with 22 years old. And with the tools to win every f1 championship since then.
            I think if Max Verstappen is very good prospect, he will deliver most sure, like the cases of Vettel and Alonso who skipped top competition categories to be in f1, but doing lot of f1 testing before getting into a car, several years of testing. Or the other tendency is precook the drivers well so they step up in f1 with all the tools to win f1, like the cases of the old champions, where they didnt give the big cars to kids, because that car will kill them if they mistake (in modern f1 the cars are much more easy to drive, and the mistakes dont kill anybody, last death was in 1994, 20 years ago), or more recently cases of Hamilton, Di Resta, Sutil, Sergio Perez, Esteban Gutierrez, Maldonado, Grosjean and most youngsters that enter f1, thats the most wise decision for teams because they showed their level before f1, and they demonstrated they are good drivers.

          • Hamilton, best driver in years… lol.

        • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 18th August 2014, 22:52

          +1.

          What’s next, 10 year old kids ?!? Minimum age for F1 drivers should be 18. I find a lot more important for road-relevancy keeping F1 “in the legality” of public roads rules rather than 18”-20” wheels relevancy.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th August 2014, 16:47

        Not sure it really matters whether 16 or 17, but you have a good point that it does seem like getting him in far too early, much like i thought it would be too early when Sauber wanted Sirotkin in for this year already.

        Sure, Verstappen Jr. does seem to be very matured for his age, but I think having a year where everything does not go to plan greatly helps a driver to develop, like what Magnussen had in his first season of WSR 3.5 before being very convincing in his second season there. On the other hand, I am a bit curious to see how this one goes.

    • I don’t agree. Age limits are notorious in my opinion for equating age to ability and maturity as a sort of universal constant, which is far from the case. I for one would consider my level of maturity to be above the average of my age group (not necessarily with respect to driving ability, but with other things like knowledge of politics).

      If he has the racing ability (which he has demonstrated), and is adequately equipped to cope with the pressures and abide by the sporting code (which I see no reason not to be the case for), then sign him.

      The only other parameter worth considering is body development – if they would be able to cope with a high g-force impact in the same way an 18+ year-old would. But these drivers are racing in single sweaters anyway at near his age, so I doubt that would be a decisive factor.

      • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 18th August 2014, 23:11

        @vettel1 Good stuff, cheers. A voice of reason!

        • bdah3056 said on 18th August 2014, 23:55

          You’re not exactly the best judge of your own level of maturity. You may well believe you know it all, as many young people do. But it is a scientific fact that brains progressively develop and are not fully developed until a person reaches their mid 20’s. That having been said, it would be ridiculous to say to F1 drivers they cannot race until their brain has fully developed, so some common sense needs to prevail. I personally believe 16 or 17 is too young to be racing a F1 car. Even 18 and 19 is questionable. At these ages a person has limited understanding of the consequences of their actions and lacks a mature understanding of their own mortality.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 19th August 2014, 0:36

        There is one BIG problem with this trend, and that problem is “driver weight” if we follow this trend we may find pre-puberty 12 year olds starting a career as F1 drivers only to be discarded at 15 when they no-longer have a weight advantage over the next up and coming 12 year old.

      • If an 8 yr old shows he/she can drive an F1 car, should he/she be signed on?
        I understand what you are trying to say with regards to age and maturity but a line clearly should be drawn especially when it comes to the age of drivers allowed to compete in F1 – the highest level of motorsport.
        Age rightly should be a major criteria, if not F1 will look like the camel racers of the middle east.
        If 16yrs is good enough, then a 10 yr old who is exceptionally good at karting and other series should be allowed to drive an F1 car when such comes along.

      • You believing you are more mature than others may well be a sign of immaturity. Setting an age limit may not be perfect but it’s better in my eyes than letting the teams decide, it at least allows some extra time, a year or 2 makes a big difference to a young person. Imagine, in at 17, dumped at 18-19 when the next hot shoe comes along.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 19th August 2014, 9:35

      Honestly I don’t see a problem with him being 17. Plenty of drivers have started as 19 year olds and several of them went on to become Champions.

      Motorsport is dangerous at all levels so I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be in F1 providing he’s good enough. He’s only had one year in Formula 3 but 8 wins in 27 races suggests he knows what he’s doing.

      I suppose if he was getting a seat at another team, I might be a bit more unsure but having found Vettel and Ricciardo in addition to Kvyat, JEV, Algusuari and Buemi, I think Red Bull have shown they know what they are doing.

      To be honest, I imagine they might have planned against giving him a seat but Mercedes tried to poach him with the offer of paying for a seat at Marussia or Caterham and Red Bull had to act to get him on the books….

    • The only thing I can think about is MONEY. The pink floyd track. I think if youngsters manage not to get jaded or over confident they should do better than people older with more insecurities. Confidence can lead you to great things just look at 2nd place by Mag in Australia.

    • The Abbinator (@abbinator) said on 19th August 2014, 14:22

      I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for JEV — he basically matched Ricciardo last year (who is currently spanking Vettel), now out of a drive.

  2. pluisje (@pluisje) said on 18th August 2014, 21:09

    17… That’s quite young, can he even get his superlicence?

    Quite convenient that they don’t have to change the 3 letters in the timing-graphics, from VER to VER :P

  3. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 18th August 2014, 21:09

    A 17 year old Formula One driver?

    • Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 19th August 2014, 2:11

      I got a mixed feeling on this, really. He definitely got talent but, do they have to raise him a promotion that quickly? wow.
      I knew that Vettel got his first F1 experience on 17 then racing on 19, Ricciardo got his first on 19, and racing next year, while Kvyat directly jumped into the ship on 19 too. I got the impression that Red Bull is getting more confident with their young drivers somehow, but maybe they pushed the limit too far. Heck, Max getting the queue out of line so quickly, I can’t imagine what were Sainz, Lynn, and Gasly felt. Not only them, but it also a hit for GP2 drivers in an age of 20-24. They maybe have to re-evaluate their future after this string of kids got F1 seat.
      it’s just like football now, every team in a rush to give a talented academy graduate as soon as possible, only playing with another 10 lads, when in racing you’re driving on your own!

      • MattDS (@mattds) said on 19th August 2014, 8:36

        Not only them, but it also a hit for GP2 drivers in an age of 20-24.

        Then again, RBR isn’t responsible for all the other drivers. They sign their talents, they bring them into F1, and they’re doing a good job with that.
        It’s up to the other teams to sign the other big talents and bring them into F1.

        Ferrari have done a terrible job at employing their youths. Sure, Bianchi is in a Marussia (hurrah) but they had the chance to bring one of their talents (Bianchi?) in next to Alonso this year but they didn’t. In the end, neither of their current drivers is a product of their youth programme.
        McLaren seems to be doing somewhat better, but all in all they haven’t brought in anyone other than Hamilton and the Magnussens in the last 15-20 years.

        The other teams have to make do with their relatively small budgets (for Mercedes it’s too soon to judge) and so they often even don’t have the choice to really pick the talent of their liking, making the decision center about having money as well.

        • FormulaLes (@formulales) said on 19th August 2014, 10:56

          True they aren’t responsible to other drivers, but I do feel that they have, or should have a duty of care to their own drivers. 16 / 17 year kids should still be in school, getting an education, so just in case their racing career doesn’t work out they don’t turn into burnt out washed up ex racers with no career options at age 21.

          • MattDS (@mattds) said on 20th August 2014, 6:26

            What they decide and discuss between themselves is unknown to us. I know Vettel has at least finished high school – does Hamilton (representing the McLaren junior programme) have any diploma’s higher than that?

        • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 19th August 2014, 12:09

          @mattds
          Ferrari is a different reality than RBR, Ferrari always hires the best driver available with the support of another good driver (now they have changed this mentality), the thing is Maranello is an electric place by nature full of politics, a place in which you can smell the pressure straight away. Do you expect a rookie who needs to learn the ABC’s of F1 to support that kind of pressure.

          • MattDS (@mattds) said on 20th August 2014, 6:21

            Do you expect a rookie who needs to learn the ABC’s of F1 to support that kind of pressure.

            It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. So yes, I would expect Ferrari to value their own junior programme. I’m not saying to bring someone in directly from lower series, but there were drivers in F1 available who originated from their junior programme.

  4. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 18th August 2014, 21:11

    So what do they give him if he finishes on the podium? Milk?

    17 is ridiculously young for a Formula One driver. The guy is clearly good, but I fear his career could be over by the time he is 20 in the same way Alguersuari had his career halted aged 21.

    • DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 18th August 2014, 21:14

      I guess if he does flop he’s got a better chance at a second bite of the cherry but I still think that’s far too young.

      Speaking of Alguersuari whatever happened to him after his sacking, he was by no means a bad driver and probably deserves a second shot.

    • rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 18th August 2014, 21:28

      More to the point, what if he is involved in a bad accident. A minor is racing with adults. Professionally. If there is an accident, the legal problems could be horrendous. Even if some sponsors don’t get cold feet, I can’t imagine the FIA will allow a minor to race in the senior motorsport event. He’d need his parents’ permission for goodness sakes.

    • He’ll be allowed to spray the champagne but not drink it. In 2011, Vettel was under the legal drinking age in Turkey (24).

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 19th August 2014, 7:21

      @craig-o that kid is good. He clearly is WDC material but I think Red Bull rushed a bit. Mercedes was reportedly trying to hire Max and eventually had a strong offer on the table so, to beat them, Red Bull gave the kid a race seat…

      Poor Sainz Junior…

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 19th August 2014, 12:27

      @craig-o It is madness beyond all comparison. Red Bull’s Junior Team has become Single Seaters Got Talent, where eye-catching and crucially well-publicized exploits earn F1 contracts, and warm manure is poured over the hitherto exciting careers of Carlos Sainz, and Alex Lynn, and Pierre Gasly, and Jean-Eric Vergne, and Antonio Felix da Costa…

      As for experience, whilst Kvyat had little knowledge of a powerful single seater, Max has none. This year he is driving a ten year old Dallara F3 chassis, next year he’ll be driving not one of the fastest cars in circulation, but the second volume of the most recalcitrant F1 cars since the ’80s. I’ve been a big fan of what Max has managed this year, but he will crumble…even with “the Boss” by his side. And with Kvyat he doesn’t exactly have an experienced team leader as a benchmark. Ultimately the removal of Vergne will damage Kvyat’s career, and premature promotion will damage Max’s. Period.

      Hopefully once the smoke has cleared from the 2015 pipe dream Max will be able to get his career back on track and re-enter F1 with his reputation not damaged unduly, and hopefully young drivers will recognize how abysmally Red Bull treat their “contestants” and opt for Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus or Force India support instead…

      And I wonder why I woke up with a stomach ache this morning…

  5. Broc Smith (@strifeforce) said on 18th August 2014, 21:11

    I agree that 17 may be too young, but then again we were saying the same thing about Kvyat last year, and look how well he’s done this year, considering that Toro Rosso have terrible reliability right now.

  6. Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th August 2014, 21:13

    I just hope it doesn’t ruin his career if he ends up being thrust too far, too fast up the ladder.

  7. sozavele (@formula-1) said on 18th August 2014, 21:14

    Wow….17! I’m pleased for him as a person, to be making your racing debut is fantastic. I trust he is a great talent and I just hope Red Bull haven’t rushed this. I personally think he will be a success but could a year or two in a feeder series be better for him and then comes in well prepared. Putting this aside, I’m pleased for Max and I hope he proves my little doubts wrong. So what will come of JEV, also Sainz jr amongst other Red Bull young drivers. I can’t see Max or Dani going anywhere other than Toro Rosso rapidly for now.

  8. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 18th August 2014, 21:16

    An F1 driver younger than me. I’m starting to feel old. :-/

  9. ArtAnonim (@artanonim) said on 18th August 2014, 21:17

    I knew there’ll be a moment when people younger than me will be racing in F1, but I didn’t expect it to come so early… I’m just a year older than Max…

  10. Daz Bundesad1er said on 18th August 2014, 21:17

    Only the results will tell us if Dr Helmut Marko is right or wrong.

  11. Rigi (@rigi) said on 18th August 2014, 21:17

    sainz and lynn will be devastated hearing this. i expected either of them to move up but i don’t mind seeing verstappen in that toro rosso. he’s a very exciting prospect, and red bull secured their future by signing him. he and kvyat will undoubtedly give red bull some more great results in the future. could be a race for vettels seat between them, if he goes to ferrari or anywhere else.

  12. Can’t help but think that Marko rushed in a bit with Verstappen. I’m all for seeing fresh, new faces in F1 at the start of every year, but only if it comes at the expense of horribly mundane drivers (ex. Sutil) and not one who, in my view, was just a bit worse than Ricciardo, but, then again, we all know Toro Rosso doesn’t keep their drivers for more than two years. Still, a year in GP2 or FR3.5 couldn’t have done him any bad, while putting Sainz Jr in the Toro Rosso for a yaer and give him a shot at F1.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 18th August 2014, 23:17

      I would like to see JEV next year replacing SUT or someone horrible, just to show he can still drive. I mean, we all know JEV virtually tied or beat RIC last year.

  13. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 18th August 2014, 21:21

    I was at Silverstone for his first race in Formula 3, which was supporting the WEC. In between sessions I had a wander around the Formula 3 paddock because you could get incredibly close to the cars – so much so that you’d have to watch your toes to make sure you didn’t get run over. I walked over to one of the gazebos which served as temporary garages, where a small crowd had gathered.

    Of course, this was a group of autograph hunters who’d spotted Jos Verstappen, who was kind enough to come over and sign a few photos. Afterwards he wandered to the back of the ‘garage’ to his grinning son, who seemed quite content to stay out of the spotlight. Max had been hyped up a little by the circuit commentators, but I still don’t think any of us would have expected that little kid in the back to be such a gifted driver, and one who would eventually make it to the pinnacle.

    And this happened less than 4 months ago. Insane.

  14. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 18th August 2014, 21:22

    Insane. Waaay too early, it doesn’t matter if he is good or not.

  15. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 18th August 2014, 21:22

    Only a week or two ago Verstappen was in negotiations with both Mercedes and Red Bull to join their young driver programmes – I think it’s pretty obvious that this is is Red Bull’s trump card that Mercedes just couldn’t match. Obviously his age is unusual, but if he’s talented enough then I’m all for it.

    • SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 18th August 2014, 23:10

      Indeed, smart move imo. I have been following Max a bit in karting.
      He is impressive and Red Bull didn’t want to miss out so they played the str seat.
      Well played imo, let’s hope he is ready!

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