The Dutch teenager will become F1’s youngest ever racer when he joins the grid in 2015 – at Jean-Eric Vergne’s expense
Red Bull have quite a track record when it comes to making controversial decisions about bringing new talent into Formula 1. But they have made their most surprising move yet with the promotion of 16-year-old Max Verstappen to a Toro Rosso seat for 2015.
The son of ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen will have just one season of car racing behind him when he arrives in Australia for the rst race of next season. He will become the youngest F1 driver in history, breaking the record set by former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari by more than two-and-a-half years.
The decision comes hot on the heels of the graduation of Russian Daniil Kvyat from GP3 to F1 this season. Verstappen and Kvyat will be team-mates, and Jean-Eric Vergne will be dropped after three seasons at Toro Rosso.
Questions were raised about Kvyat’s age when he joined Toro Rosso aged 19 last year. But the risk the team are taking with Verstappen is on another level altogether. Kvyat had four years of racing experience before moving to F1. And Alguersuari’s fate – dumped with no notice after two-and-a -half largely impressive seasons – underlines the risk. But Verstappen says he has no concerns.
“I’m a relaxed guy; I can handle it,” he told the BBC. “The biggest step I made was karting to F3. This will be a smaller step. I’m not that worried about it. The cars are really safe. It’s more dangerous to bike through a big city.”
“It is a huge step but I think if anyone can do it, it’s Max,” said Frits van Amersfoort, Verstappen’s F3 team boss.
“I’ve never seen a kid that age so calm and relaxed. He has incredible feeling with the car.”
Verstappen satisfies the conditions of an F1 superlicence through being a racewinner and title contender in this year’s F3 Euroseries.
JEV (below) will be dropped by Toro Rosso for 2015 in favour of Verstappen (bottom)