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

2015 F1 season

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

  1. Wessel (@wessel-v1) said on 18th August 2014, 22:03

    I still think this is a year too early, but I’m very excited about this (as a Dutchman, but also in general after viewing his F3 races). Just imagine the kind of records he may set. For example, having made 50 race starts before his 20th birthday could be possible. I think that if he lives up to his potential the first year, the records are going to stand for many many years.

  2. Breno (@austus) said on 18th August 2014, 22:05

    People are criticizing Max because he is young… just like everyone did with guys like Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel and Kvyat. I’ll wait to see him in Melbourne before passing judgement, thank you.

    • JimG (@jimg) said on 19th August 2014, 16:17

      @austus: I haven’t seen anyone criticise Max directly, but a lot of people are concerned that he doesn’t have enough experience to thrive in F1 yet. We have to hope that Red Bull and the Verstappens know what they’re doing.

      And how about the people who thought that Grosjean and Alguersuari started F1 too early?

  3. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 18th August 2014, 22:07

    Wow, when I heard the rumors I took it with a huge pinch of salt. It’s exciting though, this’ll do a lot for the popularity of Formula 1 in the Netherlands, and I really hope he’ll be successful in F1!

    It’s quite early, and time will tell whether he’ll be ready. I think he’ll be fine. People were quite vocal about Kvyat when he entered Formula 1, and he’s been doing quite well. I think Red Bull has quite a good sense of what he can do, and they must think a lot of him if they skip him ahead of their other young drivers. Like someone said earlier, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

  4. Roald (@roald) said on 18th August 2014, 22:08

    Just texted my father. We’ll be at Spa next year wearing Torro Rosso caps.

  5. Slr (@slr) said on 18th August 2014, 22:09

    I have no idea what to make of this. I guess if he really is good enough, then there shouldn’t be a problem. However I just can’t get over the fact that he’ll be 17 during his debut. I suppose the fact that we’ve never seen a driver under 19 in Formula One creates a fear of the unknown factor for many. Hopefully this won’t be a case of too much, too young.

    • JeffreyJ said on 18th August 2014, 22:56

      10 domestic championships in Belgium and the Netherlands
      3 Euro Series, 1 World Series and 1 Master Series title
      2 European Championships, 1 World Championship
      11 Wins in the F3 Euro Series in his first season of carracing
      Won the Masters of Formula 3
      16 years old…..

      I mean…..good lord this kid is not just good. He’s freaking insane! I too worry it’s too early though. It would be a shame if a talent like this goes to waste by pushing him too soon too fast. If things go right though, this kid has ‘superstar’ potential, no doubt.

  6. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 18th August 2014, 22:11

    Not surprising as many think, Toro Rosso/Red Bull has always been the benchmark for the youngest drivers to make their way into F1. Algusersuari stepped up from Formula Renault for the sacked Bourdais during the middle half of the 2009 season and eventually settled in, going on to have another two solid seasons for the team despite being sacked as well. The most recent case study is Kvyat, who’s had a smooth transition despite the jump from GP3, so there’s history of Red Bull succeeding in managing the drivers in the pressure and transitional aspects. Verstappen himself must’ve dealt with some form of significant pressure having taken six wins in his first season in single-seaters, under 12 months after racing in go-karts. It’s the pinnacle of Motorsport yes, but with half of the Motorsport season to go, it’s a no brainer to get experience with F1 machinery during the remaining practice sessions and the in-season test at Abu Dhabi, thus it being very wise for Red Bull to confirm him for next season during the summer rather than after this season and whatever pressure Verstappen is feeling now should be eased by the timing of the announcement.

    • MattDS said on 18th August 2014, 22:24

      Small correction: Verstappen is on 8 wins for the current F3 season and has won in the Florida Winter Series as well.

  7. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 18th August 2014, 22:14

    Very interesting. I do hope however that Sainz is offered a F1 seat next year as well. He deserves it.

    • Fenz65 said on 19th August 2014, 3:51

      He totally does. Rumors are that the team wants to buy him a Caterham seat.
      As for Caterham, we don’t yet know or the team will exist in 2015…

  8. tino852 (@tino852) said on 18th August 2014, 22:15

    Since everyone is having a go at f1, can I also have a turn, I drove a kart last week too.

  9. Just another thought to add to the pile, why does Verstappen get in the STR before Sainz? Sainz is impressing aswell in his category and drives very mature. Put Verstappen in his seat and let Sainz have a go, if he disappoints there is always 2016…

    • George (@george) said on 18th August 2014, 22:44

      Exactly, Sainz has the experience to transition into F1 while Max is going to have to learn as he goes. From what I’ve seen of him in F3 he looks fast but erratic while Sainz already looks like an F1 driver. I expect a lot of bent purple cars next year, and a lot of angry drivers.

  10. Fixy (@fixy) said on 18th August 2014, 22:16

    I hope Vergne doesn’t end up like Buemi and Alguersuari, as I think he’s better than them. I hope Sainz doesn’t miss his chance like da Costa because I think he’s talented and I hope other teams are willing to sign them despite them not being in their own drivers’ programmes. I think Max’s career is being unnecessarily rushed but this could be great for Red Bull if he becomes a title contender.

  11. This is too much from RedBull’s driver program. I mean yes, they have produced quality drivers but 17 is way too young. And what about Sainz jnr ? Just few months back, he was in frame for Torro Rosso and plans to get experience via Caterham and he is still doing top job in FR 3.5

    What if this was a ploy by Marko to get Verstappen on board, later to make him go-through FR3.5 and Sainz jnr does indeed come through ? Unless Sainz does get a seat at Caterham.

  12. Fixy (@fixy) said on 18th August 2014, 22:17

    I hope Vergne doesn’t end up like Buemi and Alguersuari, as I think he’s better than them. I hope Sainz doesn’t miss his chance like da Costa because I think he’s talented and I hope other teams are willing to sign them despite them not being in their own driver programmes. I think Max’s career is being unnecessarily rushed but this could be great for Red Bull if he becomes a title contender.

  13. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 18th August 2014, 22:19

    I hope Vergne finds a drive somewhere else. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and produced some impressive performances, especially in wet conditions. He was pretty much right with Ricciardo last year and if Ricciardo is doing so well at RBR right now then Vergne should too. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t be in Formula 1 but Maldonado, Gutierrez, Sutil, Ericsson and Chilton would still have a seat. I guess it’s just the money talks. Verstappen should be given at least 3 more years in lower formulae before he proceeds to Formula 1. At 16, he isn’t allowed to drive on the roads in the UK and I would struggle to think he would do well against Maldonado which would be an embarrassment for himself. Besides, you know what it’s like when kids touch cars. Vergne has been unlucky lately, especially with having a very unreliable car this year and missing out on the dream team seat at RBR last year. I think he should have been given at least one more season at STR. Speaking of STR, I don’t understand why a team like this should even be in Formula 1. I understand that they want to test young driver’s abilities but that’s exactly why GP2 was created. To promote young drivers into the big racing. I think STR should go to GP2 and give their F1 space to a team which would actually try to build a car to win races instead of building a car to come 9th or 10th and that is what STR is doing.

    • JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 18th August 2014, 22:59

      It’s amazing how one stroke of luck can be the difference between stardom and oblivion. As you say, there was little to choose between Vergne and Ricciardo – over their two years as teammates Ricciardo scored just 1 point more than Vergne – and now Dan is on top of the world while JEV is likely facing unemployment. F1 can be such a cruel sport…

      • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 19th August 2014, 3:58

        @jackysteeg – So true. It’s not quite fair, but it is what it is. I hope Vergne does get a seat somewhere in F1. Imagine if he got a seat in a truly competitive car and did half as well as Ricciardo. He would be hailed as a very good driver all of a sudden. He is easily a better driver than at least half a dozen others that will likely have a place in F1 next season.

        Glad to see Verstappen get a shot, his age does not bother me. I think Sainz would be a better fit right now and also deserves his chance in F1.

    • I would like to say that Ricciardo and Vergne were probably a bit further apart then most people think. I believe qualifying and natural pace is more telling in a car that poor.

  14. Even though I love young talent coming in to sport, I just don’t like this. Next year Red Bull will have 4 drivers all aiming to be Red Bull’s championship winning driver. Firstly, you have the 4 time world champion who has broken records all his career and doesn’t have anywhere else to go really. Then you have the biggest star of the season so far, hot tipped to take over after the Vettel/Newey era comes to an end. Then you have the rookie of the season, only 20 years old but proving all his doubters wrong. And then you have a 17 year old kid who is being hyped up as the next big thing ( and understandably, I’ve been watching F3 recently to see this kid) at the bottom. Then there are all the drivers aiming to be the next in this long queue. I just don’t see how all of this talent can be put to good use. The only way I see is having to drop Vettel or Ricciardo in the next 2 years and end up having Kvyat or Verstappen’s promising careers over by the time they’re in their early 20s.

    That’s the problem with Toro Rosso. It is so black and white. You either get a seat in a top team in Formula 1 before you’ve even hit your prime, or you join a list of RedBull rejects. The competitive relationship between Toro Rosso drivers is probably similar to a dominant championship winning team (take this years Mercedes team for example). They both know that the winner gets a frontrunning car and the loser walks.

    Maybe F1 should be a bit like Football. Any team can have as many drivers as they want and can sub them in at any point. Small teams will likely do this to get maximum profit while Big teams will have their main 2 and loan off the ones that have promise to any team that will take them. A bit like Mclaren tried to do with Magnussen at Force India last year. I’m still amazed they turned that down. Money from Mclaren and a talented driver for a couple of years is probably just as good as Perez, which was probably an unlikely deal at that point in time.

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