Highly-rated Max Verstappen joins Red Bull Junior Team
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  12 Aug 2014   |  5:56 pm GMT  |  45 comments

Highly regarded F3 racer Max Verstappen, son of former Benetton, Stewart and Arrows driver Jos, has joined Red Bull’s Junior Team, a move which will fuel rumours that the 16-year-old Dutch driver is being lined up for an F1 race seat with Toro Rosso.

After graduating from a stellar karting career, Verstappen currently lies second in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, trailing Frenchman Esteban Ocon by 94 points with nine races left across three events, at the Nurburgring this coming weekend and then at Imola and finally at Hockenheim in mid-October. In his first season in the series Verstappen has so far taken seven wins.

A Red Bull statement read: “We are very pleased to announce that Max Verstappen has accepted our invitation to join the Red Bull Junior Team. This is effective immediately and the 16-year-old Dutchman will continue his FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign at the Nürburgring this weekend as a Red Bull Junior in the Van Amersfoort Racing team and additionally will compete at the Macau Grand Prix in November.”

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 16.36.06Verstappen and father Jos were very visible visitors to the F1 paddock at the German Grand Prix last month, with the pair being courted by a number of teams keen to secure the youngster’s signature.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko was one of those who met the Verstappens but in the wake of the visit, Italy’s Autosprint reported that the pair had rejected Red Bull’s overtures in favour of a deal with Mercedes, with an announcement supposedly ‘imminent’.

That news never came, however, and when the Red Bull Ring hosted round eight of the F3 European Championship at the beginning of this month, Marko was present to once again put the case for Red Bull to the Verstappens.

Whatever he said worked and Verstappen now joins current Red Bull Junior Team drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Pierre Gasly, who race in Formula Renault 3.5, and Alex Lynn who currently leads the GP3 championship.

Verstappen will be 17 at the start of the 2015 Formula One season and paddock rumour has suggested that the youngster may displace Jean-Eric Vergne, who is midway through a third tricky season, at Toro Rosso.
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 17.53.59

While that may seem premature, with more obvious destinations being Formula Renault 3.0 or GP3, there is precedent for such a move. Red Bull promoted Jaime Alguersuari to a Toro Rosso seat half way through his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 season in 2009, the Spaniard graduating to F1 as the reigning British F3 champion. He was, however, 19 years and 125 days old when he made his debut. Sebastian Vettel made his race debut for BMW-Sauber at the 2007 US GP aged 19, stepping up from Formula Renault 3.0. And this year, Daniil Kvyat made his F1 debut aged 19 having won the 2013 GP3 title. He became F1’s youngest points scorer with ninth place on his debut in Australia.

While a move to an F1 seat in 2015 for Verstappen might seem unlikely when two years younger than other Red Bull-associated F1 debutants, his joining the company’s junior squad send a warning message to the others on the programme. Lynn, Gasly, who lies third in WSR 3.5, and 19 year-old Sainz, who currently leads the Formula Renault 3.0 series and who until recently had been widely tipped to replace Vergne, will now surely be looking over their shoulder in the coming months.



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I think Vergne has been unlucky this year, he has definitely improved from last year but seems to have had some terrible unreliability. He’s generally had the edge over Kvyat but Danii seems to have caught the eye because of his age and the odd qualifying performance. He is worthy of a spot of the grid if Torro Rosso move on from him, I think he has a lot more talent than the current Sauber duo for example.


Lets hope he’s not like his dad who knocked race leaders off the road


Too early. If he fails to deliver in 2015 his carreer will be over.


If you’re good enough you’re old enough. The kid is an extremely special talent. And he has a very cool head on his shoulders unlike his father Jos. Red Bull know they have a real gem here. I think it’s actually good for him to go straight into F1. He’ll learn much more racing midfield in F1 against the very best than he’ll learn driving in front of FR3.5 or GP2 races. There’s only a few real talents there. Most in there are really mediocre talents with rich parents. Too much hype about those series and learning there with all those mediocre pay drivers.


Boy ! I sure feel old. It seems like just the other day when i was watching Jos Verstappen run into Montoya at Brazil. The look on Patrick Head’s face was just priceless !

Scuderia McLaren

The return of the “Verstappen Slappin”.

Ahhh the good ol’ days where a few bloodied noses could be seen from time to time.


Max should certainly get a couple more years under his belt before stepping into F1. Jaime is a good example of too much too soon (a lost promise).

That said, nothing wrong with Red Bull’s approach. They nurture young talent, give the best a drive in a Toro Rosso, a couple of seasons to prove themselves, then on to first team or out.

JEV is clearly good, but he will not move to Red Bull next season, so as per precedent, he will need to look elsewhere. DK has another season to get ready for 2016, and there will be a new team-mate with him next year to keep the programme moving.


If Max wins the title in whatever category he’s in next year will there be a space for him at Toro Rosso in 2016? presuming Sainz jr is at Toro next year, he won’t be dropped after just 1 year and if Fiat really is the star he looks to be, he won’t be dropped either.

I presume either Max will spend 2 more years in the feeder series, perhaps doing GP3 then Renault 3.5, or they’ll be a space for Fiat at Red Bull in 2016 in which case who would’ve gone and where? Vettel to Ferrari?


Or going to a C team, like some reports says about Caterham… (and for that matter, wasn’t Sauber until not so far ago, and Marussia right now a B team for Ferrari?)


It seems Redbull would indeed have a problem; more drivers than cars. Is it the suggestion that Vettel or Ricciardo would make way for Kvyat for example? And if not. Have not Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren amongst all the other teams; their own protégés waiting in the wings, whom they have invested so dearly in?

Ah, all the combinations and permutations! It appears one must clearly stand head and shoulders above the rest, to”make it” in this day and age. Or have deep pockets. 😉 At the end of the day it’s a good problem to have…as a Team, not a driver.


I would like to see a rule that you must finish in the top 5 of a GP2 Championship and be a race winner in that series before you can make the jump to F1.


I’d second that in principle, although it doesn’t account for a good driver having a bad car or a very unlucky season.


or a great driver winning a snow-mobile championship 😀


Off topic, but car looks better than…

Well lets just say it looks good.


Hope he’s better than Jos.


For what it’s worth, Dutch papers and news sites are reporting the 2015 Toro Rosso deal as almost done and to be confirmed in Spa.


I’d be very surprised. That’s too young to enter F1; the other drivers would be concerned about a 17 year old, I would have thought


We routinely see 17/18 year olds making motogp debut. If anything Motogp is so much more dangerous than F1. Why are F1 drivers worried about a teen driver making debut ? Jaime Alguersuari,Alonso,Thackwell were all in their teens when they made their debut.


At this rate, racing drivers will be signed up when they are still in the womb!

By the way, doesn’t Jos the Boss have some issues in his personal life? Alleged assault or something like that?

PS On this day in F1 – 13th August – Nigel Mansell brilliantly won the 1989 Hungarian GP from 12th on the grid, Emerson Fittipaldi decisively won the 1972 Austrian GP from pole position to make that years WDC a formality for him, while at the 1978 Austrian GP Ronnie Peterson driving the superb Lotus 79 took pole and dominated a wet-dry race to win what would turn out to be his last grand prix win by 47 seconds, until just 4 weeks later he would tragically die at Monza. A different era indeed.


One popular newspaper quoted sources in the team supposedly saying Max will be with them in 2015 already. The Verstappen’s haven’t confirmed the story though.

I fully agree it doesn’t make the most sense and I’m not taking it too seriously, but you never know in F1!


I cant wait for a full F1 grid of ex drivers sons.


I used to think it was a nice novelty but that’s worn off.

One thing that turns me off now is privilege that allows the cultivation of talent. We wont see many Kimi, Fernando or Lewis’s in the future.


you do realise that Lewis was a product of McLaren’s many many years of grooming, Red Bull is no different, Red Bull gives the drivers the resources and opportunity, They’d be offered a path to the top, but weather they make it is totally in their hands.


Grandsons soon!!


Let’s hope Max does better than his dad, Jos ‘Gravel Trap’ Verstappen!


Haha, that would be something!


I think he’s made the wrong move. The Redbull programme has too many juniors around the same sort of age and at least one seat in the main team is probably tied up for the forseeable future. Vettel’s may or may not become available. What happens when you get to TR for two years and there’s nowhere to go? You get dumped by the programme for the next young thing and your F1 career is over.

If there was an offer from Mercedes I’d have gone that path. Get them to stick you in a backmarker team for a couple years and by then Rosberg or Hamilton might be ready to move on.


If you think you are good enough, then you go with it. Look at Kvyat – he’s looking very good, if he continues on his current development path, it’s Red Bull’s problem and if they decide not to put him in the main team, then another team may well take him. Verstappen clearly feels he’s good enough to make it through that channel.

Mercedes’ commitment to F1 is at least to 2020. Red Bull the same at present. Verstappen will only be 22 then.



Met Max 6 yrs ago in the states at a kart race and he was probably 10 or 11 and the kid is brilliant. I race karts and have watched Max the last few years and I don’t think I ever seen someone win in so many classes withe best karters in the world. Shumacher used to use Marco Ardiglio as a benchmark in training and this kid has dominated all of them at the top shifter class in the world and he was the youngest by far. Watch this kid that’s what Refbull is seeing. You need the right car and he will be fine.


Sounds like Red Bull have some good dominos in place should Vettel leave after 2015. Would not surprise me to see Sainz replace Verge next year, then possibly Kyvat to Red Bull in 2016 with Verstappen in at Toro Rosso. If Vettel doesn’t leave, all 3 are still young enough to keep developing elsewhere.

I see Lynn and Gasly as insurance in case any of the big 3 drop the ball. Shame a talent like Mitch Evans doesn’t have backing from an F1 team yet – he does have minor Red Bull support, but I can only guess that Webber has advised him away from Marko.


I’m begining to wonder how F1 wins.

There are so many messages on this site about too many pay drivers and bringing the sport down due to lack of quality drivers.

Now, and for a long time, Red Bull and other teams clearly develop the talent pool and push it’s drivers to show thier talent, and we get comments about quality drivers being pushed too hard and rejected.

If these guys being dropped in thier mid 20’s are really that good, they will attract sponsors (and get pay drives), or will have thier talents recognised (and get paying drives) or will be found wanting at the pinaccle form of the sport and move back toward something that better suits thier abilities or style.

I’m not a Red Bull fan but I can see a bloody good idea when it smacks me in the face. I for one congratulate Red Bull for investing in the future of drivers, and engineers and appluad them for doing better at it than the other teams.

Let’s start recognising high performance, and encouraging others to catch up, rather than chop down the tall poppies.


Maldonado clearly is a pay driver but… How much is Santander paying to Ferrari since Alonso drive for them? I’m not saying that Alonso is a pay driver perse, but, he’s kinda in a grey area 😀


Interesting point and the reason why i could see alonso in a williams next year as they could use the money!


Red Bull are merciless. Vergne will almost certainly be replaced for next season, but with the A-team looking set for at least a few more seasons together, how can Kvyat, or Sainz, or Verstappen get promoted to the top of their ladder? The B-team gives 3 years at most before dropping the talent and bringing in new youngsters; but they bring in more drivers than can realistically get to the top. Too many talented drivers being dropped before they even hit their mid-20s because of the way the relentless Red Bull machine plows forwards.


They can join other teams….


How is the Red Bull system any different or less fair than a normal chase for an F1 seat? There are only 20 odd seats for the whole planet. Everyone likes to dig at RBR, but at least they have credible program of bringing talent through. The reality in F1 has always been that only the cream rises to the top – good is often not good enough to survive. What are any of the other teams doing? They just recycle the same chard every year or get pay drivers. Your last sentence makes no sense whatsoever – what’s a better alternative, that these young guys never ever get to drive in F1 at all (which is the normal situation in the history of Motorsport/ F1)? Or that they get a couple of seasons and then get passed over becuase they didn’t deliver. For example, I would rather be JEV who gets a couple of years in F1 before moving to another category, than never have an F1 career on the CV.


The solution is simple: At some point Red Bull will have to start fielding a twenty car team.


Great to see that the fastest Max in motorsport has been given a real shot! There’s a lot of criticism of the Red Bull Junior programme, but if you deliver you are rewarded.

Max is obviously a superstar in the making. As 2015 will be his second year racing cars, I can’t see how he’s going to be ready for F1 next year. But Formula Renault 3.5 makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure I’m keen on this trend of getting drivers into F1 as young as we’ve seen.

I was under the impression that Max had signed for Mercedes, but that Red Bull have paid them off to get Max. Remarkable if true!

The Red Bull conveyerbelt will be bottlenecked more than ever before now with Max in the picture. Vergne has shown he can be as good as Ricciardo. Kvyat has surprised everyone this year. Sainz has shown he’s on par with Kvyat, maybe a bit wilder, but if anything a bit faster. He’s also dominating 3.5. Lynn is being his consistent rock solid self, dominating GP3 in his first year. Gasly has done well, but not as well as his RB Jnr teammates – is he the one that gets the chop? I definitely think Red Bull will be buying a Caterham seat for Sainz or Lynn next year.


Gasly’s doing very well for his first year of 3.5, whilst Sainz is in his second and though Lynn is in his first year of GP3, he does have two years of F3 behind him which is a similar level.

I’d disagree that Vergne has shown he can match Ricciardo, it’s why the Ausie got the RBR drive instead, and unfortunately he looks to be the one to get the chop next since he is doing well.

Christopher Cathles

Andrew – maybe Verne would get the chop because, if Max Verstappen gets a drive, there would only be room for one “VER” on the leader-boards

Cross-referencing the “three word assessments” webpage on this site, comments 160 & 202 would then have to read VER – Very Early Retirement


Or just buying Caterham, to give them 3 teams on the grid.

Weren’t we just saying that the drivers need to once again become THE focal point of the sport? Pretty hard for that to happen, when they’re switched out faster than light bulbs!

Max in F1 next year is silly. Win a junior championship first, there’s plenty of time.


This is only Max’ first autosport season, so F1 is still way too early. I know it’s fashion nowdays to step into F1 with (autosport) daipers still on, but Jos is well aware of the right moment and way for his son’s debut. He says he went to early and in the wrong seat (next to MS) and that severly hampered his own F1 career, so he’ll make sure that his son will not make the same mistakes. BTW watch also out for his 14 year old daughter Victoria!

Saptarshi Shukla

I think there is a repeated typo – its Formula Renault 3.5 not 3.0.


Doh! Corrected. Developed a weird blind spot there between 2.0 and 3.5!

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