Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014

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

2015 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Images © FIA F3

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

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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…

      1. @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.

    2. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. He’s simply too young he should have gone to gp3/gp2 first to gain more experience, at least then he will have that resume to fall back on. As for now if he doesn’t deliver he will be replaced by another RedBull young driver and no other team would pick him up then. Very high risk.

    1. Jos Verstappen on : “I mean, Max got into a Formula Renault 3.5 for the first time last week. He just got in and drove off with extraordinary pace. He is so in control that he’ll be able to understand and master driving an F1 car.”
      Some critics will suggest a year or two in GP2 or FR 3.5 would ease Max into F1 as the lap times between GP2 and Formula 1 don’t differ that much. Jos disagrees. “Plenty of drivers didn’t make it through GP2 so after a carefully deliberating with Max, Raymond and Red Bull, we came to the conclusion that F1 is the best option for Max.”

      1. I’m not saying he won’t be successful, I’m just saying given RedBulls track record of young drivers I would say its better he did GP2 in order to get more exposure to other teams. That doesn’t mean he won’t succeed in F1 but if RedBull don’t like him or like someone else more he will be out as quickly as he came in, and that will most definitely ruin his career. A few races in F3 doesn’t mean he will be a star in F1, where by the way he will be racing with people who were also very successful in F3 at some point.

  7. Not sure what to make of this. On the positive side, this definitely gets people talking about F1 – there’s the possibility of a new superstar, and every sport needs those. There’s nothing wrong in bringing exciting talents to the grid, and whether they are young or old doesn’t really matter.

    Then again, Red Bull’s programme makes a total mockery of the junior categories. Why don’t they promote people straight from karting? 17, although it is just a number, is too young. What if Verstappen becomes another Alguersuari? His career will be over when he is still in his teens… And how many countless others (like Jan Magnussen) have been hailed as the next Senna when they drove in the junior formulaes, and then they turned out to be either okay or nothing at all? While new talents deserve a chance in F1, they should be given a few years in the lower categories to mature.

  8. Wow, what an odd move.
    I don’t care about his age, but he has only one year of experience in single seater racing. He’s been impressive so far, ok, but also Felix Da Costa looked impressive in his 2012 season and one year later he was not worthy of an F1 seat. I mean, things can change so quickly, you can’t just sign a 16 years old after one season in F3.

    And there are very good Red Bull drivers in other categories! Carlos Sainz is dominating FR3.5 (the opposition isn’t exactly the best, but he’s winning), Gasly is in his first year of FR3.5 and I feel he’s doing a good job, Lynn is leading the GP3 championship. They all have more experience than Verstappen and they’re impressive as well.
    I mean, I saw why Toro Rosso chose Kvyat over Da Costa. FdC had a disappointing season in FR3.5, while Kvyat won the GP3 championship in his rookie year.

    Hopefully Verstappen will do a good job in F1, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this move is a bit crazy.

    1. FdC had a disappointing season in FR3.5

      The problem with that was that Da Costa showed good speed but was let down a few times by Unreliability & general bad luck.

      He was dominating the 1st race at Monza for instance is very bad conditions before the car broke, He came back to win race 2.
      He had car problems in both Austrian races, Retiring from the 2nd with a mechanical DNF.

      He ended up 3rd in the championship despite the problems behind 2 drivers driving for the 2 best teams in the category (DAMS & Fortec) who are also 1st/2nd in this years championship with.

  9. I wonder, because he has very little experience, otherwise good luck! :)

  10. Why did they do this?

    Because the guy in charge of their young driver programme thinks the teams exist to serve it (and his power base), not the other way around.

    Because he’s impulsive with no interest in actually developing young drivers at all.

    Because Red Bull as an organisation are becoming more and more dysfunctional.

    This is bad news for the sport, and probably bad news for Max too.

    Furthermore, it sends a pretty clear message to the other drivers in lower formulas: the red bull system is basically worthless unless you can turn yourself into a political pawn.

  11. Michael Brown (@)
    18th August 2014, 23:40

    Hasn’t a 16-year-old raced in Le Mans?

    1. You mean Matt McMurry… but he has more racing experience (started in Skip Barber during 2011, raced both single seaters and the American equivalent of Radical SR5s for 2 years) than Verstappen does, not to mention an extensive testing programme and being paired with numerous senior drivers in the LMP2 car. In fact, he’s still racing in a junior series alongside ELMS.

  12. For me his age & inexperience in cars isn’t the issue, My issue is that guys like Da Costa, Sainz Jr & Alex Lynn have seemingly been overlooked by someone who may well be great but who is yet to really prove themselfs over a full season.

    Alex Lynn has been mega in GP3 this year, There’s no way he deserves to be overlooked.
    Sainz Jr has been impressing for a few years now in GP3 & now WSBR, He’s more than good enough & fully ready to make the step up to F1.

    It was the same with Da Costa, He had the pace in WSBR but was let down by unreliability & some other bits of bad luck. He showed just as much raw speed as Magnussen & Vandoorne yet got overlooked for F1 & then thrown into DTM where he’s fading into oblivion as like many other open wheel drivers he’s struggling to figure DTM out because of the very bespoke way those cars are (Driver sits very far back which gives a very odd feeling for how the car is moving about).

    The bigger problem for Lynn & Sainz comes in 2016, Kvyat is doing a brilliant job so I can’t see Red Bull losing him & if Verstappen also impresses then there not going to lose him either (Can’t see them getting rid of Vettel or Ricciardo either), So where do Lynn/Sainz Jr. fit in?
    Do Red Bull fund them in a rival team, Do they drop Red Bull & lose all there funding to risk trying to make it on there own (Look how that worked for Algersuari, His career’s been dead for 2-3 years as he’s struggled to find new backing)?

    This decision may well turn out great for Max but its horrible for Red Bull drivers who have already worked through to & have shown great speed & talent in GP2/GP3 & WSBR.

  13. The Red Bull driver programme’s producing loads of Formula E and sportscar drivers!

  14. I’d like to link to this, where Jos has a say. You really feel that Jos realises that his son is more mature than he is, and how everyone keeps being stunned (FR2.0, F3, FR3.5) by how quickly he adapts. Add that to RBs incredible desire to snag him, and the ability to offer what Mercedes can’t, and this move makes sense. Still a big ask though. I bet he’ll do great.

  15. What is more significant: a woman driving in F1, or a child?

    I’m being half serious. It’s one thing for a minor to win Wimbledon, as Boris Becker did. He couldn’t kill himself or anyone else. Throwing a car around at 200MPH is quite another matter. Would it be OK for even a prodigious 12-year old to win an F1 seat? Obviously not. What about 14? Where must a line be drawn? I think the legal age of majority is as good a minimum age limit as any other.

    I would have thought that any team, and any sponsor, would get the best return if they put a woman in an F1 cockpit. If the Hunger Games and others in that genre show us anything, it’s that feminizing an activity is more profitable than making that activity even more appealing to young boys.

    1. I’m hopeful that de Silvestro will be announced shortly in the Sauber seat for 2015. That really would make the year one for the historians, a woman and a child joining the F1 ranks!

    2. Putting Verstappen in F1 has nothing to do with marketing but just pure talent.

      He’s Dutch and the Netherlands isn’t exactly a big market, he brings no sponsor budget like Maldonado or Chilton and he doesn’t look like a boyband member like Chilton either.

      He dominated Formula Renault pre season testing, decided to skip ahead straight to F3 where he won the Masters of F3 and has 8 wins already there and blew everybody away with his pace in his FR3.5 test too so skipped straight to F1 after RedBull signed him two wks ago.

      Dont forget litterally every F1 team was trying to sign this kid to their developmemt program after his insanely good karting career and start to this season.

      He’s has shown to be a real racers racer if you get my drift. extremely agressive overtaking and exciting when overtaking and driving mature beyond his years.

  16. Generally speaking, I think 17 is just too young to cope with the pressure, the split second decisions, the team politics – all of it really. However, I have no knowledge of the lad in question and he may well be able for it all. I doubt it though, and it would be a pity to see a driver with real talent and potential churned up and spat out through the wheels of the F1 machine because he was too young to deal with it all. Personally, I’d take Sainz Jnr instead and give Verstappen the opportunity to mature through the feeder series.

  17. This seems bizarre to me. I don’t doubt that he’s quite exceptional. I just don’t understand either why Vergne isn’t being given until the end of the season to impress more before announcing it or why he gets the place above all the other great current and recent drivers Red Bull could and should call upon. I thought the same about Kvyat to be fair, and that seems to have paid off.

  18. I’m happy yet unhappy about this news of Max’s signing. I’m happy because his dream was to race in Formula 1 since he was 7 years old, like most young drivers, but unfortunately most of them don’t get the chance to race full time in Formula 1, which is what Max is now able to do at age 17. But for me, that’s the only good thing I see out of this.

    Alongside Max will be Daniil Kvyat, a former Red Bull Junior Team driver, which is where Max was recently signed to before signing for Toro Rosso. But there are still another 3 more experienced and older drivers who’ve had to do a lot more than Max to get to where they are today.

    Pierre Gasly: still a teenager, but is showing maturing and pure pace in Formula Renault 3.5 and is currently 3rd in his first season in that championship.

    Alex Lynn: He won the Macau Grand Prix last year, and is currently leading in GP3 and like Pierre, this is Alex’s first season in GP3.

    Carlos Sainz Jr.: he has been in the Red Bull Junior Program since 2010, when he was only karting. During his stint in GP3, he earned a young drivers test with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull and overall, he was only slower than 1 driver: Sebastian Vettel. This year, he is currently leading, and by some margin, in the FR3.5 season.

    I may have only selected the stand-out points of those driver’s careers, but they have driven a lot more than Max has. Max’s Formula 3 career may be a stand out for him, but it’s the only racing series that he has raced in that isn’t karting. If Max can secure a F1 seat because of his performances in a championship that he’s not even leading in, than all I can say is good luck to him because I think he’ll just end up following the same path that Alguersauri had to take.

  19. Congrats to Max. Great news. Why not give the young talented kid a shot. Ive always critisized F1 for always holding onto drivers well passed their used-by-date and not letting new and exciting talent come through. I think times are changing, it almost reminds me of the MOTOGP model of, if they’re fast, then bring them straight through

  20. I have no animosity towards Max and wish him the best. But he is cutting to the front of the line. If he truly is more promising than his more experienced and tested competitors, how the hell was Torro Rosso able to measure that? This is nothing more than politics and money at work.

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