F1 Winter Break
“If you are good enough you’re old enough” – but is 17 too young for F1?
Max Verstappen
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Aug 2014   |  9:23 am GMT  |  269 comments

There is an old saying in F1, when weighing up if a driver is too young for a race opportunity: ” If you are good enough you are old enough”.

Up to now that has only been applied to drivers who were 19 years of age, like Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat and even Fernando Alonso.

But the news that Max Verstappen, who turns 17 next month, is to make his F1 debut next March in Australia is a real moment to pause and consider the wisdom of that saying and of the decision itself.

Leaving aside the complexity of modern F1 cars with their hybrid systems a world apart from an F3 car and the depth of knowledge required to drive them, it is highly questionable whether he has the mental racing database, honed through years of experience, to mix it with the best drivers in the world’s fastest cars. An Alonso or a Hamilton approaching him in a racing situation early next season, will be concerned at how he might react, how he will race.

Max Verstappen

Alonso is on record saying that some young drivers today have a “GP2 mentality”, driven by the desperation to get results to further their careers and they take risks as a result. It’s make or break and they force the issue.

A 17 year old can drive an F1 car quickly, but racing is a craft and one that takes experience and time. There are no shortcuts.

Vettel, Kvyat even Alonso made rookie errors at the start, that’s to be expected. But they had done more racing than Verstappen. Kvyat for example had raced cars for four years before his F1 break, including F3, where Verstappen is now and GP3. He has a far more developed mental database of racing situations. Kimi Raikkonen is the most obvious comparison; he did only one season of Formula Renault before coming into F1 in 2001, with some debate about whether to give him a Superlicence. He was 20 years old at the time.

Perhaps it is the combination of extreme youth and lack of car racing experience which causes concern here.

The mental challenge is fierce and many of the drivers who came in young have later reflected that they were too young and not really ready. Jaime Alguersuari was 19 when he was parachuted into F1 mid season and he later said that he was too young but had no choice when offered an F1 seat.

Fernando Alonso 2001

Development is the key word. Youngsters with exceptional talent in any sport need to be developed correctly, over a pathway. Verstappen’s promotion at this time is a jagged step on an otherwise correct pathway. It’s one thing for Wayne Rooney to make his Premier League debut at 17, he had 10 other men on the pitch to carry the day if he struggled and the worst that could happen was if he fouled someone or got sent off.

We need to remember that young drivers are still developing in the first five years of their F1 careers, even Vettel was still improving in his mid 20s, as was Alonso. Kvyat won’t be the complete article for another four to five years.

Another unfortunate downside of this move is the impression it creates that F1 must be getting quite easy, if a 16 year old kid can be handed such an opportunity, it must be a doddle. Taken in tandem with recent moves like double points for the last race, sparking skid blocks and other gimmicks, it demeans the integrity of the sport.

F1 is about the best of the best competing for the highest stakes; to maintain and grow its appeal as a sport, driving an F1 car should look difficult and dangerous and not something the average Joe could ever imagine being able to do.

All of this is not to say that Verstappen is destined to fail, far from it; he clearly has the credentials and pedigree to be a top F1 driver, the kind of talent the sport needs and even in this difficult situation he may well succeed. We wish him well.

But it seems wrong to put him and the sport in this position, it looks like forcing the issue, making this bold move itself a talking point to create sensation. It is another example of Red Bull having a different attitude to F1 from other competitors in the way it uses F1 to its own ends.

Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo

Let’s remind ourselves of the context: Verstappen’s opportunity has come about because of timing. Red Bull operates a revolving door policy, whereby young drivers are given approximately two years in the Toro Rosso team to prove themselves and then are either promoted to Red Bull Racing, if there is a space, or dumped. The vast majority are dumped, as Jean Eric Vergne has been with this move.

Daniel Ricciardo was fortunate that Mark Webber decided to stop at the end of 2013, creating a vacancy, which only he and Vergne were qualified to fill. The team chose Ricciardo.

The next in line for promotion is Kvyat, who looks very good indeed. He will hope that there is a vacancy in 2016 or 2017, possibly if Vettel decides to take one of the offers which are likely to be around at Ferrari, McLaren Honda or even Mercedes by then.

If Kvyat does get the chance and Ricciardo continues his development and stays put, there will be no space at Red Bull for Verstappen.

The Dutchman must therefore put so much pressure on Kvyat in the couple of seasons to warrant consideration for Red Bull and that means – potentially – driving with a sense of desperation.

I hope not and I hope that he turns out to be another great talent like Vettel and Ricciardo before him from the Red Bull programme.

But it will certainly be a talking point this weekend in Spa and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of F1’s current leading drivers voice some concerns.

What do you think? Give us your views in the comments section below

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Raikkonen was similarly inexperienced in cars when he joined and made jaws drop. Will Buxton and an Autosport guy (can't remember which one now) have both written decent articles on why Verstappen is ready to take the plunge. I can't wait to see how he goes. He's created a storm in F3 so far this season


Is it me or does he look like Gary Numan?


Where is Jamie Algusueri? Not in F1 anymore... thats for sure.


Hopefully he succeeds because having achieved your dream at 17 and being told you are not good enough by 19 with little to no shot of giving it another go must really hurt !

P.S Kudos to his management team


Driving in Formula E, also commentating for Spanish TV on F1


Lets not forget, this is nothing more than a drinks company selling high caffine drinks wanting to appeal to a younger age group. Marketing before sport. Red Ball do not make the drink, they only have the sole right of purchase from the manufacturer. They are just a marketing company, and the events they sponsor exist to sell the drink, both need each other to survive.

I wonder what the comments would be if it were an under 18 year old sponsored by an alcoholic drinks company.


Mark D,

If I may do a small edit and correction?


Lets not forget, this is nothing more than a bunch of venture capitalist selling high octane marketing space wanting to appeal to a younger age group. Marketing before sport. FOM do not make the cars, they only have the sole right of distribution from the FIA. FOM are just a marketing company, and the events they produce exist to sell the products, both need each other to survive.

There....what do you think of my edit Mark?


You guys remember how Schumi talked about letting his son do what he wanted? Not push him into F1? Letting him become the person he wants to be?

You think perhaps it's the other way with Jos? Since he was so overshadowed by Schumi in F1 to the point that many readers here probably went back to Jos' wiki page to find out when and if he was even in F1, could he be pushing his son too hard?

I'm not saying it's for the best, or that it's bad because really, at this age you can still tell kids that they have to do things, and they do it...mostly. And Max could do a lot (A LOT) worse. But is there an argument here that Max is doing all he can just to please his dad? That Jos is pushing hard, perhaps too hard on Max? We don't know. But it's one heck of a thin fine line, let's not kid ourselves. Not our place to say. We are concerned, likely unnecesarily so because it's not our son - and he'll be just a character in a show we watch. Jos has been through it, he can surely provide a heck of a path and draw on experience - which not really any of us have, right? So is our concern misplaced considering the guidance and love Max has backing him up?


You could have a point there Sebee...


Yes Random, but at least facts don't come out. Usually you don't settle if you're innocent, right?

I've been saying for a while that anyone given the seat time could race an F1 car. As James points out, even kids can do it! F1 is not so mystical anymore, is it?

Funny that as an attention getting marketing move F1 went with youth vs. woman driver. Confirms that women sports don't yield ratings and the back-end think tank figured a woman driver will get F1 e-ink in press, but not much of a sustained viewer bump. Let's out someone on the grid the kids can relate to...one of them. After all, youth viewership is a problem recently identified.


That's both the advantage and disadvantage of settling out of court; sure you're officially innocent, but you haven't really proven it so no one can be sure if you really are or not.

As for Max, whatever his situation right now, if he's as successful as it seems he might be then at some point he will be old enough and confident enough to say "this is what I want to do and how I want to do it", and good luck to anyone who wants to try to tell him different - even his Dad.



I've come full circle on Jos. Guy has more assault related wiki entries and physical confrontations than F1 achievements. Including claims by his ex, Max's mom. I know it's an assumption, but linking the history of physical confrontations by Jos to set a personality pattern there may be more to my theory of Jos pushing Max hard and Max trying to please his dad than I thought. You want to be the one to say no to Jos if those claims by Jos' wife were true and you were the kid witness to them? Jos wiki page makes uncomfortable reading....seems to be settling out of court a lot, which is what you try to do when you have a decent lawyer and funds.


Beats Jos the Loss 🙂


Here is a random thought.

Jos the Boss? Did he really come up with that? Is he a bossy dad? 🙂


When I have random thoughts, they really are random. Right Random?


He's created a storm in F3, So what? you think the F3 field has anyone even close to an Alonso, Vettel or a Hamilton? Magnusen also "created a storm" in WSR but now he looks average at best

Even a driver like Button that is generally not considered the fastest in F1, is miles ahead of any F3, GP2, GP3, WSR title contender.


He's created a storm because he has the best entry as driver coming from cart. The way he picket up driving in in a one seater is amazing. He showing a very mature behavior in the races as junior driver for his first year in F3. Driving on second place with 8 wins in your first year on F3.....well you could say he has the package to be a great F1 driver. Let's wait and see what i will do in F1, give him time, real talent show it self.


Raikkonen was blessed with exceptional natural gift as a youngster, and as James says he was 3 years older.

I personally think it is too young. I have no doubt he could drive an F1 car quickly out on track on his own, but race starts + racing against uncompromising veterans of the sport is a different kettle of fish. This is the same aspect why I think female drivers would struggle in F1


As James states Kimi was "20".

I reckon F.I.A. should be responsible & have a access age limit to F1 with obligatory time served in the junior single seater formulas.

There will be a fatality if this continues.

I'm surprised how silent Todt is regarding this event.

There should be a strict entry policy into F1 rather than this gob-smacking shocker !!

Sad day for F1.

It will take a shocking crash to put this into perspective. By then F1 will be in the doldrums unless they act now.


They do have an age limit and ability level, the minimum age is 16 years old, and the ability is a suitable amount of practice in suitable cars. No-one is going to die because he is 17.


Raikkonen was 20 years old...


Currently, there are 11 teams with 22 drivers.. slots up for grabs for the next two years.. top-notch teams with vacancies are far between...

Summary, timing & opportunity shall dictate events.

Driver-wise, consistently beat your team-mate, minimize mistakes, demonstrate race-craft maturity... and most importantly, punch above your weight... how ?... is the question we all ask... and many have come and gone

Surviving vs. Thriving

the Sennas / Schumachers / Vettels / Alonsos are not created... they had "the right stuff" to commandeer their own luck into destiny... so if Max V fails, then he's just another driver, but if he turns into one of the greats, then he was destined as such

So, enough of debates, decision has been made.. Max V starts racing next year.. let's sit back and enjoy the show... and let's gossip about how the show develops over the course of the year.. yeah baby... bring it on !!


Yet, in all concerns of life, some old people are not mature enough at 30yo, other guys can be mature at 15...


20 is still really young even now. Plus Raikkonen didn't have a lot of experience in single-seaters himself.

And the football comparison isn't a bad one, but if a player played in the Premier League at 17 or 18, that's still a long way he could potentially fall and there's a lot more players who don't push on from that and instead go on to become long-forgotten from their youth days.Examples such as Francis Jeffers are a lot more common than a a player like Rooney.

By the way, Rooney made his debut for the first team at Everton at 16 and also scored in the league a few days before turning 17. I know a Liverpool fan like yourself probably isn't too happy with him!


True - and there is the compression of difference at earlier ages - I.e. The difference between 30 and 35 isn't great but the difference between 16 and 20 is pretty monumental.


Am I the only one that has noticed that the next in line was Carlos Sainz Jr. and now all of a sudden Verstappen is in. All credit to Verstappen, I ahve watched all his F3 races and I agree he has the tenacity and skill to be up there, however Sainz is no slouch and the position was supposed to be filled by him, even if he also is very young...So where to for Sainz now?


I call this factual reporting with balanced view.

Would Bernie call this talking down the sport? The part about ....Another unfortunate downside... just facts really. Is that what offends Mr. E?

Max will sink or swim. For sake of his well being I'm pretty sure we all hope he at least floats.


Of course there is a difference in age between Kimi and Max here, but didn't you just make the point that it's not about those kind of numbers, but about the number of racing situations in a driver's mental inventory that matters?


As I said in the comments section of yesterdays Max Verstapoen there should be no drivers in F1 under the age 18 and that all f1 drivers should have an official road driving licence before they start racing in f1. I also think the FIA must introduce a rule whereby it requires drivers to compete in lower category single seaters for at least 2 years before they drive in a GP.


Fully agree.


Totally agree. I feel it undermines F1 if someone so inexperienced can enter the ranks of "the best drivers in the world" - isn't it already bad enough that we have pay drivers, artificiality, double points, etc? The direction F1 is going is starting to horrify.


@3rd shift: "There’s plenty of teenage olympians out there as young as 16. I don’t see anyone arguing that they are undermining the sport. "

If they weren't piloting rockets reliant on split-second decisions to avoid injury or worse, I'd agree with you. Apples and oranges.


There's plenty of teenage olympians out there as young as 16. I don't see anyone arguing that they are undermining the sport. They get there on merit.


Road drive has no relevance for racing cars...

I can't understand this demand for road permit to race... surely, that's what the RACING permit is there for...

Do you think he will be better at racing (including safer or more aware) after he goes through driver training?! Maybe, he will be more aware of the rules, pedestrians, trafic lights, etc... none of it relevant to racing... (maybe he will learn to take the hand brake off before driving off... he hasn't needed to so until now...) 😉


Agree - not relevant. I started riding motorcycles as a 5 year old and raced into my mid-20s and never held a road licence. Driving on the road requires a completely different set of skills and thought process (which many still fail to master despite their age).


No driving licence in my view should mean no racing permit in my view.


There is such a system, it's called the Super License. And if I'm not mistaken Verstappen already has one, based on his F3 kilometers.

So, the question is not whether the FIA should introduce a new rule about years of age or years of experience, but it's whether the FIA should be more careful in handing out Super Licenses. Okay, for Verstappen we have to see how this turns out, but I must admit that I do not recall drivers from the past that got a Super License but turned out not to be ready for the job. I follow F1 since 1999, so maybe there are some cases before that, but since the 2000's the "worst" driver ever may have been Alex Yoong, but he actually did a decent job (apart from being slow).


I think many would argue that Pastor Maldonado should never have been given a super license. He has single-handedly wrecked any chance of having budget caps for the teams. But I would agree, there should be some caveats in the licensing system to ensure that we really are seeing the-best-of-the-best making it into F1. I agree with James that this is not a good look as it certainly suggests that F1 is a much easier sport to compete in than it should be. I just look back to my experiences in motorsport and whilst youngsters can be quick they simply don't have the experience and race craft needed when stepping up in categories. Look at MotoGP. They have a whole series of junior categories that riders need to prove themselves in before getting a seat in the main game. Even the incredible Marc Marquez was 20 before getting into (and winning) the main game - and THAT was previously considered impossible. There is a huge gulf between a 16/17 year old brain and a 20 year old brain, even if it has been coached by a former F1 driver and has been behind the wheel of a kart for 12 years.


It's not kilometers driven in F3 that get a Super License. From Wikipedia:

To qualify for an FIA Super Licence the requesting driver must already be the holder of a Grade A competition licence, and additionally meet the requirements of the 2013 FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L. These requirements state that the driver must be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3 (British, Italian or Japanese championship, or Euro Series), Formula 2, or GP2 Series (formerly known as Formula 3000), or must have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing in the first three positions five times within the last two years in GP2 will be eligible for a Super Licence.

Additionally, drivers who have competed in the IndyCar Series are eligible for a Super Licence if they finished within the first four places of the driver's championship. This allows drivers from the United States domestic series to move into Formula One without first taking part in other FIA sanctioned events. Under exceptional circumstances Appendix L also allows the FIA to award a Super Licence to a driver who does not meet the normal criteria if a vote reveals unanimous agreement by the members, and provided that the driver has completed 300 kilometers of testing at racing speeds in a current car.


The Luca Badoer of 2009 was one of a kind 🙂


Fully agree


Regardless of what history has shown, I think the absolute minimum age to race in F1 should be 21.


Why does a road license have anything to do with it? The completely different mentality of driving on the road to driving on the track makes the requirement of having one for the other ridiculous.

kenneth chapman



I wonder which of Kyvat or Verstappen we will be seeing dumped in 2 years from now.

To quote Highlander - "There can only be one".


I disagree with JA's assessment that if Kyvat continues to drive well that he will automatically be given preference and MVS will have no place. I think MVS has more hype around him, a more established name-brand and fan base due to his father and will leapfrog Kyvat if he's a match for him.


I think the Highlander quote would be lost on Verstappen as it was released 11 years before he was even born


"There can only be one"

I disagree - based on TR's MO to date they'll probably dump them both.


Agreed. I'm not against the kid racing, but It kind of makes you scratch your head.

Max: I'd like to hire a car please.

Hertz: How old are you.

Max: Just turned Seventeen.

Hertz: No.

Max: They let me drive an F1 car.

Hertz: Yes, but this isn't F1.

Something here doesn't make sense...and it may well be me.


You do realise when he makes his debut in Melbourne, technically he won't be able to drive a hire car in Australia?

So Jos the Dad will have to ferry him back to the hotel!


That's the only challenge Verstappen is facing, as JA points out at the end of the article. So, if you put it that, way, the step Verstappen makes may not be that big. All he has to do is beat a similarly inexperienced young driver in the same material.

That does not mean that you can still question whether the F1 championship is the best arena to host that fight...


I'm not sure that's true.

There are a couple of challenges facing Verstappen.

1. He needs to demonstrate a clear advantage over Kyvat.

2. A gap needs to appear at RB at the right time for him to make a move.

3. Potentially if he can pull off point 1 and there isn't a gap at RB in the next few years he might be picked up by another team, but thus far history has shown that if you're not at the right place at the right time with the RB team itself and your 2-3 years is up, you're done in F1.


Wrong. Both of them can be dumped!


The worlds gone mad. He is far too young to be in F1.

This is going to dilute the level of comptency on race & quali days. With junior drivers with low experience getting in the way of drivers that have served their time in the junior levels.

The likes of Torro Rosso (I thought they were better than this P.R. rocket) & Sauber are ruining the sport.

You might as well have a team sponsored by a cheap tabloid like The Sun or Daily Sport & have a pair of large breasts on the front wing of the Torro Rosso car!!

I dont care whether he's a godsend to F1 (which I do not) but F1 deserves better. This paid driver nonsense to stop. Whether people think his father's skill set is etched in his DNA its still a hige gamble. He look like a duck out of water waddling in mediocrity. Yes Riccardo is doing well but 16years old just about shaving once a week & still into world of warcraft is where he should be.

Worlds gone to hell in a hand cart 😀


@Pkara Your comments always make me laugh!


You must be easily amused 😉

Well enjoy the laughter 😀


Should I point out the Rodriguez brothers, who were highly competent in their teens, and Chris Amon, who was hard charging in a Maserati 250F at 17? Maybe it is too soon, of which I am worried about, but like any driver we'll find out if he'll sink or swim when he lines up on the grid next year.


Well, at least the Red Bull organisation are doing their bit for the Youth Unemployment Crisis in the European Union.......................


Well said mate


Apologise for spelling but predictive text is going crazy as usual 😀

So corrections...

Paid driver nonsense " has" to stop...

Hige = Huge

He "will" look like a duck out of water...


Excellent article. It seems that all of racing led by F1 is obsessed with youth and a driver is barely established before we hear talk of the next teen in the pipeline. Seb's wilting in the face of Ricciardo fuels the perception - perhaps - that even the very, very best are expendable. Especially after they become expensive. Which raises another issue - why do teams pay them so much if they are interchangeable? I'll close by saying that I would like this to leave you with two future column ideas. 1) Is Seb's unfortunate performance juxtaposition with his teammate a sign that the car is the overwhelming component in the winning formula? 2) Are teams devaluing experience in the rush to youth? That is, how long does a driver have to establish himself (until his bank account runs out?) before the next teenager is promoted for a couple of seasons?

Thanks again for your insights.


JB proved that point in his WC title.


"the car the major factor in making Vettel look unstoppable"

JB proved that point in his WDC title.


Do you suggest that Verstappen gets this seat because of his bank account? I have checked out the biggest sponsor decal on his F3 car, apart from Red Bull obviously, and that is a company called HSF logistics. It turns out to be a medium-sized Dutch trucking company. That does not give me the impression that there is a lot of sponsor money involved here. Compare that to the sponsors that for example some Mexican, Russian, or Venezuelan drivers bring to F1 these days.


I think he's currently in talks with a major potential sponsor. Clearasil.....


Yes, but the various Rosberg/Magnussen/Verstappen et al only make it because Daddy opens doors for them and probably puts them in a shiny new kart from the age of 4. So they are in fact far more priviliged than the pay drivers.

I'm sure that a good many of us on here could be perfectly competent F1 drivers if we had the same upbringing. This nepotism is something that doesn't happen nearly as much in other sports, I can't think of one example in tennis for example.


As F1 is struggling to attract younger viewers, I wonder if Bernie had a hand in this deal in an attempt pique the interest of the youth demographic.


Can you remember what first attracted you to F1? For me, it was watching with my dad when I was younger. The cars were mighty and the drivers were heroes. I started to take an almost obsessive interest in the sport around 15 years old. The cars were still mighty and the drivers still heroes. They were seen as men, superstar athletes, amongst the fittest on the planet, yet they drove cars. I don't believe for one second that if I was 15 again, that I would be interested in the new F1 the way I was then and I don't believe for one second that a 17 year old driver would interest me at all.

If FOM are so desperately chasing the "youth" market, they're doing it wrong. F1 is like a right of passage almost, it's instilled in you from young, passed on from one generation to the next. That's what breeds the dedicated follower that spends money on things associated with the sport.


Recommend x 1000


That is what I was thinking. However, having a very young driver will not be enough. The world needs to know about him. F1 does not promote itself very well, either on the internet or TV. Very few young people talk about it and most probably think it is a sport only their Dad's are interested in.


Not only Bernie. Nice young face to sell Red Bull. Everyone wins!


Very good marketing opportunity - if - IF! - he pulls it off.

Big if.........but, hey, when you're 17 nothing fazes you and you think you're superhuman, yes?


My suspicion too, whenever something controversial rears its head - who really stands to gain..?

One the one hand, it feels like a hurry on to established drivers, a threat that time may be passing you by in favour of youth.

On the other, it further alienates the established F1 fan base, heaping further insult onto the injury of increased artificiality, diminised traditions (historic venues, points systems, etc).


Had Bernie had a say in it, he would have gone for a Canadian pop-singer


One of the best worded, most balanced summaries of nearly all the confusions besetting F1 right now. Is it sport or spectacle? Should it aim for fifteen seconds of pop-culture excitement, or have a deep appeal to a more educated - smaller - audience?

Should F1 allow drivers of an age that in some Australian states need 'P' plates (for provisional) on their (non-turbo) p-plate approved car, and are speed limited to below the posted maximum on open roads...?

If Max is brilliant it makes F1 look too easy. If he causes a shocking accident in Australia it would be terrible for the entire sport.

It's the latest move by a sport that has lost it's identity and does not know where to look to define it's 21st century character.

Where is the vision?


Boris Becker was a brilliant tennis player at 17 and won Wimbledon. Did that devalue Tennis and make it look too easy? The issue is not about making F1 look easy, it's the potential consequence of a young man of no experience failing. If Boris failed at Wimbledon, the worst that could have happened is a ball boy gets a bloody nose from an errant fuzzy rubber sphere. The consequences at turn 3 in Melbourne (where Brundle ended upside down all those years ago) could be much worse.


Ok, I'm a little subjective in this since this is a fellow country man but.... Your logic is a little flawed. What if Max is simply one of a very rare breed of talents like Shumi, Senna or Vettel? Reality is that technology has changed how quickly things progress and I firmly believe if Senna was 16 or 17 today and like Max was a multiple karting and junior formula champ, he too would have been given a drive and done well. Red Bull and in particular H Marko are not daft. They have examined not only this young man's driving potential but most importantly his mental potential, as they have done with Webber, Vettel, Ricardo and Kvyat. It is not bad but excellent news for F1 that we potentially get to see another amazing star in the making and if he does not beat his team mate then I'm sure there will be others that come along.



Oculus Rift + Forza Motorsport . . .

F1 is an anachronism in the 21st Century.


Kyvat will now be the old man at STR next year in terms of drivers. Amazing.


That's Entertainment . . .



glad you also now openly admit F1 is heading in the wrong direction, away from the sport, and towards rather low level entertainment.

Unfortunately, with the current shareholder structure this is rather inevitable. People with simple tastes who demand cheap and easy thrills are around in much larger numbers than the intellectuals capable of appreciating the finer side of F1 racing. To make more money then, one needs to cater to the lowest common denominator kind of people.

The paradox is, this strategy can backfire spectacularly, as people with rather simple tastes will not be stable, long term followers of the sport. To keep their attention, more gimmicks will have to be invented each season. And we all know where it goes, WWF (formerly) being an excellent example.

BTW have you notices how car advertisements on TV have deteriorated over the years? Nobody is even mentioning technology these days there. Instead, everyone is projecting some more or less unrealistic image there, playing on your feelings and impulses, leaving your intellect pretty much untouched.


Yep that Jag recent Jag advert got banned because they deemed the driving and exhaust note in the Ad to be in an aggressive manner and could promote bad driving. Good grief


@janis Car ads have deteriorated over the years as the legislative restrictions imposed by the Nanny State that dictate what is and isn't allowed have sucked the creativity out of them......


I understand what you are saying but Wrestling has always been pretend, staged entertainment since it began.


F1 like all motor sport will need to capture a generation raised in driverless cars within the next decade or two.... The manufacturers know this is coming so are moving to emotion and brand-value based advertising before the driving experience is all together irrelevant.

F1 is trying to make the same move... And failing - while remarkably disengaging with the young and old generations, the new fan and the old, the die-hard and the casual all at the same time!


Well, it's not all bad for Son of Jos.

Firstly, he'll have plenty of preparation time on the excellent Red Bull simulator, he'll probably do the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi, he'll have plenty of time from now until March to get to know the Red Bull/Toro Rosso set up, he'll have plenty of time to get to know everyone in the team..............It's now late August, so by the time the new season starts next March he'll have at least 7 months of experience and insight into his new team and its operating methods.

Not a bad head start.

Also, let's face it, when you're 17 you are completely fearless and are not intimidated by anyone..........

I'd say application and ability is more important than age. Age is but a number...............

kenneth chapman

hire me...i'm a teenager and i know everything!


PS Sometimes being "thrown in the deep end" for a young gun does work well - Jenson (19/20), Fernando (19/20), Lewis (22), Kimi (21) and most recently young Kyvat, who despite his tender 19 years old is driving exceptionally well.

Sometimes the "yoof vote" is a smart vote.


All above is about if's and when and what......

In the end it all comes down to the driver. Not about the ability to drive fast, they are all about the same, but to keep a clear head. About 50 % of the drivers don't have this ability.

But it seems that Helmut Marko is employing drivers who can keep it together. They picked Kvyat not because he was fastest but because he was fast in different circumstances with different cars etc.

Same applies with Max. In every test in different cars he easily adapted and was fast.

ps who of the drivers will dare to bully him next year.... Jos will be right in your face.

pps I don't thinks any of the drivers will have concerns. They already know about Max and his ability


At least this finally burries the question about the fitness levels required and how modern drivers compare to the rugged strength of previous generations. Mansel, Prost, Senna, Stewart, Lauda et al would have laughed long and loud if a 16 year old kid was wheeled up to them on the grid


An idiotic and disgraceful decision. So many other drivers have put in the hard yards and shown great promise but have never been given the opportunity. Jos Verstappen is not exactly one of the greats of F1, so the lineage claim of greatness is ridiculous. Alain Prost for example is a legend of the sport, yet his very experienced son Nicolas has never been given a full time drive.

Formula 1's apparent refusal to take on rookie drivers over the age of 25 is meaning that so many quality drivers will never get an opportunity to race in F1. Most of these young rookies in F1 over the last few seasons are over-hyped, fail to impress and are then thrown out. Bruno Senna, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov, Lucas di Grassi, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Guido van der Garde, Paul di Resta fall into this category. Ericsson, Guttierez, Pic and Chilton will probably fade away as well. While all this is happening, older accomplished drivers in their mid to late twenties are just getting older. Drivers like Davide Valsecchi or Luca Filippi for example.

It should not be forgotten that older rookies can still have long and successful careers if given the chance. Mark Webber was 26 in his rookie year and developed into an excellent Formula 1 driver right up until his retirement last year.

kenneth chapman

@ wade parmino..... i don't see why red bull should have to do anything other than what tghey currently do. i am not a red bull supporter in any way shape or form but i defend their right to do as they please.

red bull set a certain criteria for their selection of who drives their cars. the point i am making is simply this. red bull spend mega $$$ on their F1 participation and F1 should be grateful that they they do this. they promote F1 head and shoulders above the other teams. they have the exclusive and inalienable right to make their own choices.

no one, repeat, no one deserves the 'right' to be chosen as a red bull driver. as has been vigorously applied to our home grown politics, 'the age of entitlement is over'. that is the sole and exclusive right of the team. if any of these drivers whom you suggest to be 'in front' of verstappen in getting a drive were as good as some claim then why haven't they been snapped up already?

if verstappen makes it then that is great, if not then he moves on. they, the verstappens, made the decision so they will carry the can. that's life mon ami.

kenneth chapman

@ wade parmino....how can you possibly state that he is 'too young'? others like red bull management and the verstappens think otherwise and i am sure that they are far better informed and capable of making decisions vis-a-vis max's potential than anyone here on this board.

why is it unfair? life is like that. if those others that you mention are so good then why haven't they got the drive? if verstappen is a 'super talent' then he will be even better in 4/5 years time given your understanding.

as for your last line re TR being a 'puppet' of RB. that is quite a ludicrous statement. TR are a stand alone operation that exists to go racing and at the same time develop new, young and exciting talent for future success at the related RB team. using the term 'puppet' in a derogatory sense only serves to weaken your position. as dedicated followers of F1 we should all be grateful that DM has both the wherewithal and the desire to promote F1 at a time when the sport/business is undergoing some very trying and testing times. red bull are seen as an easy target but you need to contemplate on what F1 would look like without them?


My point is not that Verstappen should not be given a drive ever, but that he is currently too young. It may or may not work out well for him but it is unfair to other drivers who have more experience and accomplishments. If Verstappen truly is a super talent, then he will still be such in 4 or 5 years time. But by then he will have gained even more experience which will massively help his career.

Davide Valsecchi for example is more experienced and has achieved more than Max Verstappen but clearly, politics, money and nepotism far outweigh demonstrated talent and ability. I reference Valsecchi as an example because he best represents the countless accomplished drivers who have been snubbed by F1 teams in favor of cashed up and well connected younger drivers. Consider these facts: there isn't a single Italian driver in F1, Toro Rosso is an Italian team which obviously had a vacancy, Valsecchi is an experienced and accomplished Italian driver who is available and has not yet been given a real F1 opportunity. This should be making everyone say "What the Hell!".

The Faenza based team really is just a puppet of Milton Keynes. Personally, this saddens me greatly.


I agree it's a big gamble, and it could go horribly wrong..............but it could also be an inspired decision!

Who knows? That old mistress, time, will reveal all.


Has he done anything exceptional in his few years at junior level , i.e are his results a lot better than Hamilton/Alonso/Vettel to warrant a promotion F1 much earlier than they did?

Robert Flurtees



How much money this guy brings? That´s the only reason he is allowed to race in F1 at the age of 17.

FIA must step up and make very clear rules about young drivers racing for an F1 team.

kenneth chapman

@ anne....any evidence to support your claim re 'the only reason he is allowed to race.......?


Nonsense. He brings zero money. The only reason he's in F1 is because he is superfast, mentally very strong, and a very intelligent guy. His learning curve went so steep last months, he's the real deal.

Too bad there many doom mongers and naysayers in this thread, who clearly haven't followed Max until now.


Pardon the cynicism; this is a marketing ploy designed to generate free and widespread global media exposure on the team and on F1 in order to "attract" a younger audience at the expense of a young lad with obvious raw talent. To James' point, the driver can obviously drive very fast. He will undoubtedly be one of the fastest on a test track with no other cars. However, race craft takes time to develop. I truly hope that I'm proven wrong but I think the poor kid will dissolve under the relentless pressure that is F1.




That's not completely true, a lot of it is instinct. If he's raced karts he will have the craft. It's the decision making that will suffer with his age. Time will tell. In bikes the young lads are hard at it from 16 and I've see loads with massive craft from word go. Who are we to judge? Let's wait and see. It will be exciting regardless.


He did race karts and for years he really demolished the competition. He even didn't drive a factory kart but one tuned by his dad. Talking about talent. He entered single single-seaters in november 2013 and has since impressed everyone in the Miamie Series en Euroseries F3 with his overtaking skills and keeping his nerves. The poor kid won't dissolve under the relentless pressure that is F1. No way


Aelfwald makes an interesting comment - Bernie is back, apparently there is a need to attract a new generation of fans/viewers/wallets to F1 and we have Max, fresh out of the box to generate headlines. I pray to all gods available that that is not the case, but I have developed a certain cynicism towards the direction the marketers of the sport want to take (more excitement, sparks, noise, dancing girls?? never seen a grid girl samba... maybe they can moonwalk up to the podium to award the double points). What ever happened to driver skill, brilliant innovative engineering and the like?

On question for those in Europe - has Max EVER driven the distance, in anything? Has he done 300 kilometres at 180+km average an hour around Spa, Monaco, Monza in anything approaching the madness of an F1? He may be quick over 1 lap, but can he be consistent over 60? F1 is not a sprint for the fastest (which personally is why I think Hamilton hasn't done as well as predicted) but a marathon, where stamina both mental and physical are at play.

Simulators are one thing, but having been a follower of F1 for many years (Mansell and Senna at Adelaide anyone?) I sincerely hope that the sport does not turn into a playbox game for the casual viewer and regains the well earned moniker of "pinnacle of motorsport".

For the record I hope he does well, very well and knocks the cynics into next week (thanks Dan, I did not believe until I saw - now I worship at the altar of teeth!)


This is what I've been talking about in my last few post. It's not just about being fast

Currently the grid consist of fast drivers who lack development skills - are they little rich kids who's parents wealth have gotten them to were they are , I don't know.

But currently with the exception of Hamilton none are exciting or worth supporting.

To expand Damon Hill grew up with a racing father - when F1 was filled with racing 'men', mechanics, rogues or chaves if you like. He grew up around the cars gained a basic knowledge of how they worked and how to speak 'develope' to mechanics.

He spent many years in the background, given an opportunity by Williams as a development driver.(their golden era)

His ability to develope a car was only really visible when he was hired by Arrows and then Jordan (a midfield team he dragged to a 3rd in the WCC.

He never got multiple WDC's but look at his record carefully. These were not big budget teams.

Hamilton started in carting his old man - an enthusiastic petrol head - buying him the first cart - there is a documentary on him - there is a ssection at a race meet we're Hamilton loses a race, both he and his father are vexed and upset. He explains what he thought was wrong with the cart and Anthony with his limited mechanical knowledge adjust the cart accordingly. Hamilton go's out and wins the next race - now his rookie season is legend.

Lauda again a rich rouge who loved fast cars again knew how to speak 'develope' - watch Rush, don't know how accurate it is but his career suggest there is some truth to his portrayal.

Its fine if TR give this 17 year old his chance but it will not move them up the grid if he his just fast with no understanding of the car or how to communicate with his mechanics.

Like Williams, McLaren, FI if they had drivers capable of talking 'develope' this season could be very competitive between teams.

Has I said elsewhere things are stagnete in F1 att - the teams need to develope their young drivers to be more than just fast, consider men before worshipping youth - the article covers what happens when just fast is the be all.

Sadly it's always been the way though with only a few class fully developed drivers getting through.

kenneth chapman

currently, with the exception of hamilton, none are exciting or worth supporting?????????


Lol.... I meant 300+ responses to threads..... 200 tfhhhrrr..... What was I thinking.


O.k Kenneth Chapman.

This is an English speaking site as are most of the sites and publications I refer to for my f1 fix.

So maybe my view is skewed. But most of the places I visit including this one always appear to get increased traffic if a Hamilton story is posted.

Using this site as an example - last few weeks threads have been going 200+ responses were he is involved. What sort of figures are we getting now on recent topics?

Just stating the obvious.

kenneth chapman

@ thompson....are you being serious? let's be quite clear here. you cannot assume to know what i think in a million years and to be quite brutal and clinically honest you are just plain wrong, wrong and wrong again.an example of 'hubris in extremis'. hamilton only garners the level of interest ATM because he is a challenger for WDC and is driving one of the very fastest cars on the grid. he also happens to be british and that brings out the rampant 'jingoism' that supports your particular bias.

as for your last comment, well when i picked myself up off the floor from laughing i finally decided that you just had to be joking....having a bit of a giggle at our expense.


Lets be brutally honest Kenneth Chapman - he is and you know. t.

He generates more press and more interest than anyone else currently in F1.

He also generates more camera time during races - Alonso, DR, Kimi. ....prrft!

Watch the build up to this weekend then tell me I'm lying.

I'm not only talking about his fans ether but anyone with an interest in the sport at this time - without him F1 would be dead right now.


Hill is probably the worst World Champion in the history of the sport who got his drive purely because his name was Hill.

The season that Hill "dragged Jordan" to 3rd in the WCC? 54 points to Frentzen and 7 to Hill.


Pity these topics role off the front page the way they do.

Andrew, Ralf had a couple of stints with Jordan he had been with the team throughout their midfield years at no point in his career had he gone to a team and we see the team move forward.

No form, he was not his brother.

Unlike Hill - who achieved 2nd in an Arrows, almost winning the race....in an Arrows!!!

Look at Hills stats then watch his qualifying sessions and his races. Only his persona - shy, unassuming just not no.1/WDC material.


Thompson, even if you accept that the driver can influence the performance of the car to such a great extent, how would you know if it was Hill rather than Ralf?

Hill walked into the Williams when it was already easily the best car the year before in 1992. So that wasn't down to him. At Arrows there wasn't a noticeable improvement the year he was there or the year after. He also didn't improve the Brabham when he was there. At Jordan Hill was no better than 98, it was Frentzen making the difference.

Drivers can't influence the fundamental performance of the car. Prost, Senna, Mansell Schumi, Alonso, Kimi, Button have all struggled in slow cars at some point and not been able to make them faster. If they can't do it why would someone like Hill be able to.



Prost v Hill no shame

Senna v Hill no shame

Pole to Mansell (fresh from retirement) who was then a bit player in the race till he inherited the win

Beats R Schumacher, loses to Frentzen......fair enough.

Me, I recall

122 starts

22 won

42 podiums

20 poles

In a 7 year career 1 win in a jordan.

Provided many a good Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday afternoons entertainment.

Most underrated driver ever!

And you feel the 99 car never benefited from the 98 car?



Thompson, oh how our opinions of Damon Hill history differ!

Season 1, easily beaten by Prost, no shame in that as it was his first season.

Season 2, lapped by Senna by lap 55 in Brazil (a lap took about 80 seconds then). Almost 1.5 seconds a lap slower in the same car. Again, no shame in losing but not by that margin.

Also in 1994 Mansell returned after 2 years retired and outqualifies him by 0.65 in the last GP, one that Hill could have won the championship in, but still 0.65 slower than a 40 year old.

Seasons 3 Beats his rookie teammate Coulthard but loses to Schumi who has a worse car.

Season 4, Beats Indy car driver Villeneuve in his first season and wins title. However, in the second half of the year Villeneuve was beating him regularly. The Williams was the best car by miles.

Season 5, Beats pure pay driver Diniz but doesn't do much else other than his best race of his career in Hungary.

season 6, decent year at Jordan, matches youngster Ralf. Wins Spa after all the better cars retire and threatening to drive Ralf off the track if he tried to overtake.

season 7 Hammered by Frentzen who nearly won the championship in a Jordan. Perhaps the biggest mystery of this is why Frentzen didn't really perform at Williams after being brilliant at Sauber then after at Jordan.

Hill had nothing to do with the design of the Jordan in 99. To suggest that he was responsible for it being fast is nonsense. Drivers don't design cars.

Overall the only drivers he beat were in their first season or were a pure pay driver. He won no races in F3000 in his pre F1 career.

I can't think of a worse F1 champion.


WarrenG -

Pls refer to my previous response to Andrew.

If you can check season ending positions for the Jordan team.

The odd 5th place mid field team - then 4th then 3rd . The 99 car benefited from the 98 car regardless of hills results in that final year.

The 2 years hill was with the team they were in the acendancie after he retired the decendancie back to midfield.



"The season that Hill “dragged Jordan” to 3rd in the WCC? 54 points to Frentzen and 7 to Hill."

Ouch, hahahaha


Hill saw off Coultard a young upcoming 'stars'a red hot Villeneuve - he also provided entertainment from 94 to 95 with the rivalry with Schumacher.

After years of struggle the Jordan became competitive!- flux?

frentzen dropped by Williams (97 was their last good year) inherited a decent car (the hardwork already done)

It was a bad call by Jordan imo to bring frentzen to the team it destabilised HIll. Frentzen being his replacement at Williams. He was also uncomfortable with the groved tyres and retired mid season.

Jordan soon started to fall back into the midfield even though they did knock up a few more wins with frentzen - the team was sold not long after to become FI.

Look at Hills states poles, wins and compare them to his teammates at the time, if you do consider the length of his career.

Note - one of the reasons Newey left Williams was because of the way Hill was dismissed.

Yes he was his father's son but imo, that worked against him more than helped.

Again in my opinion one of the most underestimtated drivers in the history of the sport - should have been a 2 time WDC without doubt and allowed to defend in 97 - possibly a 3 time WDC.


Perhaps F1 needs to have a minimum age criteria coupled with experience and, very important, academic achievements. At 17, I think academic studies are more important than an instant kick into the F1 career.

On a separate note, most of us heard about the most recent Nascar incident. My initial reaction was, who in the world will walk into the race track on foot with cars approaching? That happend to be a young lad.



On a related subject, it seems a Toro Rosso seat can be a career limiting move. Only Vettel and Ricciardo have succeeded in moving up to Red Bull - and, with the exception of Liuzzi, the other 4 drivers exited F1 with their TR departure (could JEV make it 5?). As described above, it is likely therefore that Kyvat or Verstappen could also have a short career. Granted Bourdais, Speed, Buemi, and Alguersuari may not be WDC calibre, but surely there was some potential to appeal to other teams? However, so far only 1 TR driver has gone on to drive for a non-RB outfit.

kenneth chapman

says it all really. RB employ a harsh set of criteria in their evaluation of TR drivers obviously. if those that have been discarded for not matching up are any good at all then why aren't racing in other teams. after all they don't lack experience do they?


It's a harsh environment is motor sport.........................both literally and in terms of career longevity.

Still, the cream always rises to the top!


Wait: who will drive the car on Fridays while Max Verstappen attends school?


The FIA already have a criteria to determine whether a competitor can have a 'Super Licence',

"To qualify for an FIA Super Licence the requesting driver must already be the holder of a Grade A competition licence, and additionally meet the requirements of the 2013 FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L.[1][2] These requirements state that the driver must be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3 (British, Italian or Japanese championship, or Euro Series), Formula 2, or GP2 Series (formerly known as Formula 3000), or must have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing in the first three positions five times within the last two years in GP2 will be eligible for a Super Licence.".

(Wikipedia article on Super Licences).

Fernando de Sousa

Men are increasingly younger, but women sounds increasingly older.........


Maybe Jos is more marketable to RedBull's youth buyer. Caffeine+sugar=Money to go racing

As to F1's integrity, it seems to have a bottomless well from which to draw. Viz, one Bernard Ecclestone and CVC remaining in charge of the sport even as banker, Gribkowski, rots in a prison.


Where is F1 heading?.... I remember the fuss that was created by whether it was justified to give Kimi a superlicense... and he was 20! A 16 year old can surely turn the wheel and push the pedals, he may be able to do it at high speeds as well, but does he really have the experience to "drive" and "race"? If age didn't matter, why is there an age limit before someone can obtain a road car license? It is not just about being able to drive. You have to be experienced and mature enough to deal with the unexpected situations that you might come across.

This used to be a gentlemen's sport, now it's become a gentleboys' sport. If I am not mistaken, just before his death, Senna was voicing concerns about young drivers who cam into the sport and were not experienced enough. I wonder what he would say now...

kenneth chapman

maybe if senna was faced with a 'ricciardo like' team mate he might just say 'i'm not as good as i thought i was'. not really. it may be the truth but senna wouldn't believe that there was any one who could possibly match him blow for blow.


@ wade parmino....i think that you have missed the point entirely. my naming ricciardo as an example was meant to convey the fact that a new teamate,relatively inexperienced in F1, could come in and prove to be a better/faster driver.

of course there is a considerable age difference between ricciardo and verstappen [duh] but the principle remains the same.

i do believe that by the start of the australian GP verstappen will be around 17.5years old. not that that makes a great deal of difference but all the same it does away with all this 'he's only sixteen' nonsense.


Kenneth, funnily enough this very thing happened. Mika Hakkinen, 2 times World Champion drove the last 3 races of 1993 alongside Senna. He had spent the previous 2 years at lotus with Johnny Herbert and then became Mclarens test driver (back in the days when they did a lot of testing).

He beat Senna by 2/100ths in the first qualifying session in Estoril but was quickly overtaken in the race. The 2 races after Senna outqualified him by 3/4 of a second and won both races, Hakkinen got a 5th place.

I know your contrarian view of Senna but the only driver who got close to him was Prost, who is one of the other all time greats and who won in a variety of cars and was faster than everyone but Senna. Everyone else he beat easily.

So you can understand why Senna thought the way he did.


Ricciardo was 22 years old when he got his first competitive F1 drive. NOT 17!

A gargantuan difference.


I forgot to ask a question: Will Max need his guardian's consent and approval to be able to race?


and travel?

kenneth chapman

taking on a teenager for an F1 drive is a very gutsy call.i have always been a believer in whoever does the best gets the job. whether it is young/old...male/female...black/white whatever it takes. if verstappen can hack the pressures,the competition,and the cars then the decision was right. if not then he will pay the price. so what?

if the decision was mine, would i do the same as the team has done? a tough call. as a father myself i would be weighing up the ability to take sensible mature decisions given the nature of the racing at this level. if i was convinced that it was possible then i would gladly sign otherwise i would be looking to cover a few lesser championships to gain that edge in racecraft.

of course only time will tell. hopefully he is successful and gets to go on to bigger things but as i said, a 'gutsy call'.



well, with emotion and brand-value based advertising there appears to be little difference now between a Mercedes C-class and a budget Peugeot. Good for Peugeot, perhaps, with their exceedingly bold advertising, but it's sad seeing a truly good car being reduced to the same emotions first! level.

Anyway, I am very much in accord with your comment to this post by James!


There has been some interesting research into the status of the teenage brain, versus the adult brain. Apparently, as an example, teens (all of the teens) don't understand all the subtle facial expressions that adults do, simply because that particular portion of their brain has not finished developing.

While a teen might, in straight forward situations, be able to react in a safe and logical manner, there might be situations when they are simply not able to comprehend, and act, as an adult would.

I think 17 is too young to pilot an F1 car.


I personally think 17 is too young for F1. Imagine being handed a magnum of lemonade on the podium 🙂 In some countries he wouldn't be old enough to sign his name to anything legally binding.

I agree with some of the other punters in so far as drivers should be competing in GP2 for a period of time to ensure maturity.

Having said that, good luck to the guy.


What's bad is there are many proven racers in the background who's careers have died in development driver hell.

Gary Paffett over looked by McLaren twice - he was a DTM champion.

Anthony Davidson performed well back in the day for Honda during Friday practice - imo he was better or has good has button in the car, given a drive in a HRT for his efforts.


@ thompson. ....yes, i did think that ricciardo could prove some of his detractors wrong. his record would give some indication of his potential, right from the young driver tests at abu dhabi where he smashed vettels fastest lap in a car that he had never driven before. it is true that the track was well rubbered in by the previous F1 race but to simply do this was quite magic and laid down the foundations of his success.

his time at toro rosso was hindered, performance wise, by a pretty sad car but the defining moments were his ability to qualify above what everyone else thought the car was capable of. next, his race pace was really very strong and his racecraft as good as many who had been there for a very long time. there were times when he raced hard with alonso et al when he could and he put up a great fight. those are the points to look for and he did it well. so to answer your query, yes, i had high expectation for ricciardo's performances and he has proved to be up for it.

as for paffet and davidson? my position remains unchanged. DTM is a great place to race but does it develop F1 graduates...no it doesn't. it just throws up some good/average drivers in any F1 comparison. they simply weren't good enough for F1 and no matter how hard one postulates their individual qualities the facts speak for themselves.


Kenneth Chapman..... You rate DaniR, right?, his performance has been above and beyond expectation. This time last year did you honestly expect his carreer would be going this way?

He was average at best at TR. Certainly not has impressive as Vettel who did manage some stellar performances with the team.....now according to many he his kicking the 4xWDC something terrible.

But here we are 2014.

Paffett has driven DTM at the sharp end. He has been part of the development team of McLaren/Mercedes for years. Worked in the SIM as long.

Good enough?

Do you think he would be any worse then Perez or Button, do you honestly believe he would be worse than Magnusson?

Davidson has recently competed in the WEC came 3rd - he also is a test/SIM driver for Mercedes.

Not good enough?

There are no guarantees in anything but......... Alot of calls in F1 make no sense.


@ thompson...the reason they didn't get anywhere in F1 is quite simple really. they weren't good enough.


James, I agree Verstappen is too young and needs more time maturing. It is unsettling to think of F1 accepting someone this young (all brain development issues aside) and the increased likelihood of a serious accident. I wish him well and hope he realizes his responsibility to fellow drivers.

What I really appreciate is you openly sharing your opinion.


A bit harsh I feel. It's what he will do on the track, as long as he behaves as Magnussen and not Maldonado, he shouldn't risk safety more than others.

I've read he's exceptionally calm in the car and has plenty of extra "mind space" to process other stuff while driving the car. There was an article on when he was driving a proper racing car for the first time when he was 11 or 12 years old. To read about the comments he was making was amazing, he was calmly commenting on how he was driving and things happening next to the racetrack, while driving that racing car for the very first time.


Could simulators play a part in this?

The way I figure it is this:

A full weekend of EU-F3 has 3h40min of track time. A GP2 weekend, 3h30min. Curiously, the yearly racing (no practice or qualification) time is actually (technically) the same in both categories: 19.25h/yr (33 races of 35min and 11 meetings with ~1h and ~45min races).

A driver could do a full weekend of either category in one day in a simulator. Allowing time even to simulate engineer meetings. This means that a driver could, theoretically, get one year of experience of either category in a fortnight! Especially if there is good racing AI or other drivers to compete. Red Bull seems to have enough drivers in its academy to pitch an interesting mixed AI/Drivers grid.

If we are talking strictly racing experience, one year (~19h) could be raced in as little as three days. One week; with lots of resting and analysis time.

In a simulator, dire situations could even be forced instead of left to chance on real world racing. For instance, starting from the back of the grid with a front-potential car or driving back to the pits with flat tyres or broken wings.

And if one of the arguments against the jump from F3 to F1 is that the cars' specifications are too different, one has to question which is better for learning: driving F3 or simulating F1?

Any thoughts?


all those involved in deciding who is brought into f1 are the only ones responsible for bringing young drivers into f1. raikkonen was heavily criticised and he shut all the critics up. mansell said hamilton at 22 was far too young to be able to handle f1 although alonso, raikkonen and rosberg had all debuted at younger ages. all all saw how hamilton faired.

in my opinion, we will find out how he does. it's a shame the story has been told so far in advance of his entry date. it would have made more of a splash if the story broke the same year he stepped onto the big stage.


Let's assume Red Bull have asked themselves these questions and know what they're doing. Good luck to him, but if there are Romain Grosjean-type incidents let's hope the powers that be will remove his F1 licence for a year or so to allow him to gain more experience in the lower fornulae.


Is F1 really all that difficult at the moment? We read articles of superhuman fitness, mental ability and capacity, honed racing skills etc, but honestly if a 17yr old with 25 car races under his belt (talented though he may be) can jump in and do it, is it really the supreme motorsport test the hype would have us believe?

Also, whilst i'm sure i'm guilty of an element of rose-tinted glasses here, I (and I suspect a large chunk of current a potential viewers) miss drivers with character and different personailities, who we actually want to see/hear when they are OUT of the car as well as in it. I'm not sure another media-trained teenager will add much to the sport outside of the car.


Correct, no it is not. These cars are so much slower than cars from about 10 years ago, because of pointless cost cutting/extremely strict regulations.

roberto marquez

I agree ,I even go further ,no one younger then 21 should be allowed to race as a professional. Even in some type of racing like Nascar where the minimum ade should be 24 or 25,to avoid chid like attitudes leke the one that costs Ward his life as he ran in the middle of the track swearing and pointing fingers at Stewart,who is now been crucified by a lot of newspaper reading experts. Can you imagine a race with 3,15 years old, 4 16 years old and 7 17 years old, who would be the sponsor Gerber , Nestle or Billabong???


Lets look at the bright side, at least he's talented.

Maybe talent turns out more safe than pay-drivers.

roberto marquez

I forgot to mention instead of drivers like Stewart,Prost or any other great driver,doing the podium interviews , we will see Justin Bieber , Myley Cyrus or Kate Perry ( too old ? ) making questions like " Are you aware that you will be honor guest at next Kids Award Ceremony ? What will you wear ? Is it true you are dating TAYLOR sWIFT ??


"Another unfortunate downside of this move is the impression it creates that F1 must be getting quite easy"

This is the most telling comment of all. May it is getting too easy. I mean Hybrid technology and all that is fine - But probably the physical aspect of F1 has got diluted - Would a 16-17 year old have been capable of hauling the V10's of the early 2000's around as easily as the current cars?

Fair play to Max - He may prove all the doubters wrong - But there is no denying that when the lights go out at Melbourne 2016, a fair few drivers around Max would be quite nervous at what to expect in the first corner - Unless of course Max starts on pole and zooms away.

Fernando de Sousa



Hardly an endorsement of Red Bull's young driver program. none of them got the nod, Max is an outsider.


I just started thinking....maybe this is the strategy to make younger generation of fans get some interest in F1? Maybe this way they can associate themselves with F1 or something like that? This is way too young if you ask my opinion. Even Kvyat....just look at the guy.....


so where does this leave sainz jr who's doing a good job in Renault 3.5?

kenneth chapman

continuing to do a good job in Renault 3.5 until someone else sees his potential and offers him a drive. that is, if his potential is as good as it has been promoted.


The problem I see is that he is very young in a car that will not win races coupled with many restrictrions on testing, so he not get a lot of miles of testing in a very tough team environment.

The kid has potential for sure, but I wonder if it would have been a better bet to place him as a test driver in a front line team to promote him in 2 or 3 years to a seat while he honed his skills in other formula. With a winning car, it's the best way to shine, just look a few back, how many people were placing Ricciardo as champion potential when he was driving an HRT ?

I don't think promoting very young guys with undevelopped personalities is going to bring fans back to the sport and don't know why there is no minimum age set for a superlicense. Fully agree the suggestion that to obtain the superlicense you should have a couple of years of car racing.

F1 is not tennis or football, since car accidents can have serious implications. Look at the Tony Steward sprint car crash, the young lad was just 20 but wanting to make a point with dire consequences.

On the marketing side, I think it be overshadowed with the promotion of a female driver to Sauber (which may help the latter team's finances).

The only path I can really foresee if the kid proves to be a talent beyond what we have seen in the last

ten years, otherwise he will follow the same path of Liuzzi, Speed and the others.


There's already an impression that F1 is rapidly becoming a computer game, so the Playstation generation should be able to cope.

That the same factor also makes F1 seem too easy and therefore boring, is unfortunate and somewhat ironic (since the same generation is the one that is bored by it) but not really news.

Youngsters finding Formula one to be easy-peasy is an effect of the formula's state, not a cause for its [apparent] downfall. To that end, I, for one, hope that the young Dutchman does extremely well.


If there were more testing allowed, this would be perfect timing to bring him in as a 3rd driver and ensure that these youngsters had several sessions at different tracks. That at least gets them some experience of the team environment, the cars, the etiquette (for want of a better word). It'd be even better if the 3rd drivers (or even 4th drivers if both race drivers were excluded from some practice sessions) were allowed to engage in mini races/quali simulations with their F1 equipment - that'd be an easy way of adding excitement to testing sessions for fans and a sort of top-gun school for rookies (as well as giving the teams some real world testing). Just an idea.


Perhaps TR will "arrange" Max a few end of season practice sessions at, say, Texas or Abu Dhabi?

Didn't Kyvat do the same last year?

Makes sense.


Any reason why Red Bull didn't lock him into a long-term development deal, like McLaren and Hamilton back in the day? Why the need to put him straight into F1? Seems Max would have a better chance at succeeding with more time spent in the junior formulas, honing his craft.


What everybody is missing to see is that age in this case is not what the problem is.

Is F1 that allows RB to have a second team that they use to train their future drivers for the main team.

Is wrong and has to stop.


Next year will show if hes good enough.

He hasnt messed up yet, and is very mature for his age.

Redbull want him in F1 now, max will show you sofa experts why!

Raikkonen debut crybabies allover again.

Give the guy a chance will you? What, you want more Maldonados / Ericsons?

At least Max has the talent!

If it aint Dutch, it aint much!


Maldonado has made some silly errors, yes, but he has also won a race in a car which really shouldn't have been leading, all the while holding off a charging Alonso at his home track which he excels at. Although it is true that Maldonado is essentially a pay-driver, he is not an untalented one like Chilton for example. This season has been terrible for him however; two thirds of the time he has suffered technical failures and the other third he has made critical mistakes. Until Maldonado's talent is truly tested in a consistent race winning car, he should not be written off.

By the way, there has never been a Dutch champion or even a Dutch winner.


@James You're sounding like an old fart James! Whatever Red Bull's F1 agenda may be (and you clearly feel it's distasteful whatever it is which seems quite disrespctful to such a successful team) they have shown a clean pair of heels to the F1 establishment so they do seem to know what they're doing. I know folk will bleat that they've got Newey and Red Bull's $Billions etc, etc but they've come in with a clear strategy and made it work. I'm not particularly a fan of Red Bull but I can't help but admire what they've achieved and can't forget that they've contributed a great deal to F1 since they've been involved.

Have you any objective grounds for questioning Verstappen's mental credentials - have you even spoken to him? I'd be more inclined to listen to your concerns if you had.

kenneth chapman

@ adman....apart from your rather colourful and fruity language in your opening statement, i tend to agree with your summary.


"Alonso is on record saying that some young drivers today have a “GP2 mentality”, driven by the desperation to get results to further their careers and they take risks as a result. It’s make or break and they force the issue."

Yeah, a lot of us call that "racing". It sounds very much like what Senna used to do. And we loved / hated him for it. But, man, it was exciting. And now a days partly why F1 is great fun to watch these days. Sorry, but I dont want after you old chap "racing". I'll take some GP2 mentality thanks Fred.


When you have very nearly been decapitated by a flying Lotus F1 car, let us know. Then your opinion on such matters will carry the same weight as the very experienced Senor Alonso.

Fernando races very hard and close (have you not been watching F1 this season?) but with great care, calculation and control, exercising responsibility for the safety of his fellow drivers. If this is "old chap" racing as you say, then F1 needs more geriatrics.


Aren't F1 drivers supposed to have a driver's licence?


A couple of points to make:

With two drivers with next to no experience, who is going to be able to make sensible judgements on car set-up or help advise on development path ? Yes, I appreciate that there is much reliance on 'the computer says yes' but even so.....

However, there is also the history of F1 to consider in respect of the number of pay-drivers, especially in the 70's and 80's who really had no business being on the grid, over 21 or not. I particularly remember one who name translated pretty into English much directly as 'Johnny Carwash', the ironic thing being that his driving style was more akin to his nick-name than it was to racing.... So, experience is not the be all and end all....


From the age of 4 the young Verstappen learned from his father how his karts and cars reacted on setup changes. He has a 13 year experience. I bet there were a lot F1-drivers who had less experience when they entered F1


D'oh.... I meant to type "translated into English pretty much directly". If only I could find the edit button.....


What must Carlos Sainz Jr be thinking?


That having a famous father isn't a guaranty for the way into F1


He'll take over at the age of 21.

And wasn't he going to drive for Caterham next year?

Max Verstappen should have gone this route.


No one should be allowed to own two teams in the first place. It is ridiculous. Though McLaren and Ferrari have somewhat had a hand in other teams in recent years which I don't fully agree with either, Red Bull being able to parachute in whoever they fancy to drive for their second team takes up driver slots which could be used better.

Note that out of all Toro Rosso drivers to have been dropped so far, not one has gotten a drive with another team.


@ joe S...........why shouldn't an F1 owner have two teams? if there were other players in the field they could've bought the TR team. it was up for sale only some two or more years ago and there were no buyers.

DM is a dedicated owner/racer and he has given so much to F1. apart from having the best of cars for some four years he has promoted F1 tirelessly. sure, it is to his financial advantage but he does actually do it. with TR he gives young drivers opportunities which no other teams do to the same extent that is why we have so many 'superannuants' on the grid right now.

the simple fact is that red bull put their money where their mouth is and F1 is the major recipient. if red bull were for some strange reason decide to quit what do you think would happen? i would suggest that the grid would only have 18cars and the new driver opportunities would be severely limited. not a good result.


Actually, Vitantonio Liuzzi moved from Toro Rosso to Force India and then to HRT.


Remember when breaking into F1 was the pinnacle of a driver's career? Now it seems to be almost the start. But where to from there? If F1 truly is the peak of motorsport then the only way is down. So can we now expect a conveyor belt of young drivers arriving and then quickly disappearing a season or two later? F1 meets the x factor.


no the end is not nigh. talented ex F1 drivers move to the 'pinnacle' of future motorsport....LMP1. that is where the real innovation and excitement is and it is growing by the day.


The large bag of money that is getting Max Verstappen into Formula 1 at this incredibly early age is Red Bull's - he doesnn't need any more money. No doubt promoting a 17 years old to Formual 1 will help Red Bull in marketing their high caffeine drinks to even younger people - a motive which is also disconcerting, to say the least.

I am in complete agreement with James Allen's expressed concerns: even if Verstappen is fast enough in qualifying/practice (and he may well be), what about his race craft? With so little experience, does anyone honestly believe that drivers such as Alonse, Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg et al. will feel comfortable racing him wheel to wheel, as they do with each other?

Frankly, with only one season's experience in racing cars at any level, Formula 1 should refuse to grant him a super license. At this stage of his career, no matter how fast he is, he is apt to be an accidnet (or two) looking for a place to happen. I hope that this does not end tragically for himself, other drivers and the sport we love.



So we are weighing 2 factors : 1) Experience driving an F1 car and 2) Mental maturity.

If Susie Wolff's test was anything to go by, with modern day simulators one can put in good time with hardly any experience driving F1 cars.Given Verstappen active participation in lower Formulas and his time on the simulators, he should be quick right out of the box as many young drivers are these days.

Mental Maturity : How do we measure this ? Age cannot be the only consideration since we've all seen examples of an 18 yr old being more mature than a 25 yr old. Maldonado/Grosjean were both crash prone despite their years, where as Vettel/Alonso/Alguersuari were not despite their debuts in teens.

So we really dont know how good or bad Verstappen is until we see him race. Give the guy a chance, he has done well to deserve it.


Graham Hill - Damon Hill

Keke Rosberg - Nico Rosberg

Jan Magnussen - Kevin Magnussen

Emerson Fittipaldi - Pietro Fittipaldi

It helps to have a family member as a former driver, or drivers' champion. If his name was Max Allen instead of Max Verstappen, he'd spend at least another year or two in the junior leagues.


17 seems too young but if he performs sensibly, then good luck to him. Where F1 falls down is the requirement to get a super license. To be able to drive in F1 they should be required to have achieved a required level of success in lower formula, and the lower you go the greater the requirement.

It's more about talent and how the team manages it and controls the over enthusiasm.


I am glad that Marko just cut through the brush with his axe, and hit the tree.. to choose for talent over following driver programme principles.

There are plenty of feeder series, which brings a convenience of parking highly talented drivers and seeing how they fare.

And when a serious gem comes along, all planning programming is thrown out... and gut instinct is followed.

YOU HAVE GOT TO ADMIRE Red Bull for allowing for some occasional high risk approach.

Much better for us fans. What we do not need is the trained robot coming through the ranks.


These are nothing more than glorified GP2 cars...if this was 2004 I would be concerned...todays cars may be complex but fast they are not.


They may be not as fast as the mid noughties cars, but they do bring the racecraft to the fore.

And as James rightly pointed out. Racecraft only comes with age …


Some points to consider.....

He's driving a Toro Rosso, not a winning car, so there is far less pressure other than to beat his teammate.

Formula 1 is not about the best of the best.... its about money. Sometimes they go together.

Every year that is some controversy about driver selection..Sometimes they are vaild and other times not. Time will tell.

This will either make or break his career. No middle line.

Having a father who was a very competent F1 driver will be of enormous value.

I wish him well.


Curious how we are going to start defining something so subjective as "mature" outside the simplistic measure of time? Given the superficial concerns being thrown around in the article and in the comments section I have to wonder whose maturity we should be calling into question here.

Is F1 complicated? Sure, but let's put it into context why don't we.

An F1 driver is not required to show proficiency in Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Programming or any of a number of conceptually complex subjects...all subjects that millions of kids around the world are studying and grasping at this same age.

The most that is required of an F1 driver is the ability to become proficient at reading and interpreting some statistics and graphs related to their performance in the car so that they can communicate effectively with their engineers...who, by the way, will be helping the driver understand what they are being shown.

Refining physical performance based on feedback? That is what any young international level figure skater, gymnast, dancer or other high level athlete or artist is required to do.

The only exceptional physical strains that F1 puts on a driver are g-loads. I have yet to read or see anything suggesting that a well trained, fit 17-year old is less able to handle these loads than a well trained, fit 19, 25...or 40-year old.

It is worth noting that as gymnastics got ever more difficult and technically challenging, it was younger athletes that came to dominate the sport, not the more "mature" ones. After a whole lot of hand wringing, a minimum age of eligibility of 16-years old is now the current standard for Olympic participation in gymnastics. If you consider young Max to be an elite level athlete then spread a little Olympic spirit his way.

The most dangerous thing outside of crashing that a young F1 driver would be exposed to in F1 is the politics of it. Given that his father probably has a good idea of what goes on in F1 there is unlikely to be any naivety to overcome.

And his immaturity might just save him...for a couple of years at least...from stabbing someone in the neck in a bar-fight anytime soon...since he is too young to be in one in the first place.

As for F1's reputation...let's just say that the "mature" adults running and competing in the sport have been doing a fine job tarnishing that all on their own. There is no need to try and lay blame in that area on the presence of a talented young driver on the grid.


fantastic post! congratulations!

kenneth chapman

very well said...i fully concur.


James you raise a lot of great points. No doubt Max has the quali speed for F1 and has his dad to steer him around the paddock. But the race craft is a different story. Look at the rookie mistake Lewis made in China in 07 to lose the title. And he had huge experience in single seaters!

Plus the hothouse atmosphere of Red Bull seems awfully sink or swim for a teenager. You'd think his dad would have thought of that having literally been burned vs Schumi at Benetton ...


His dad hasn't been sleeping very well for the last 3 months. At least he said so in Dutch newpapers. He also said that 'this train passes only one time. You have to jump on it or let it pass.' After months of talks with his son, family and management they choos to jump on. His dad also says that his son is a far better driver than he would have ever been.

We have to take his word on it.

Dave Arrowsmith

It devalues F1 if everyone believes that it's for teenagers. If he does well F1 looks bad for being too easy and basically PlayStation+. If he does badly F1 looks worse, throwing kids to the wolves and risking the lives of all concerned.

More importantly, long term, it sets a terrible example to kids who are karting. They are already put under phenomenal pressure by their parents. Now the belief that they're no kind of hotshot unless they've got an F1 contract before they sit their GCSEs is going to be an added burden.

At the other end of the scale, how long can an F1 career realistically last now? Are drivers going to be completely over the hill by 30? In that case expect to lose the current roster of sponsors because Infiniti, Mercedes, Rolex, DHL etc. aren't investing hundreds of millions a year to sell stuff to teenagers.

And finally, what sort of personality does a 17-year-old bring? If there is one thing that the sport lacks you are not going to find it in a teenager who's never done a thing except go karting and hit the gym.

It's a complete farce.


Worst case scenario for Verstappen, he's out of F1 with 19 years of age (!).

When you think about someone like Damon Hill, who made his debut at 32, it's a bit shocking. I know Damon was quite late to get in F1, but still it seems too much of a difference. I mean, Senna was 24 when he made his debut...

Keith Alexander

So at 17 is he classed as a boy or a man?

I had never expected to see Children in F1 but on the other hand with the desperation to woo a ever younger audience i.e the Xbox generation and with the controls on the steering wheel looking more and more like a game console controller every year, I guess bringing children in to drive the cars was the next logical step.

Not impressed with where the 'sport' is going at all.


In Australia he is a boy, i guess it depends on the race location. I have no problem wit it, F1 is safer than lower categories like formula ford or rally anyway!


Bloody stupid I think.

His Dad was a star till he hit F1 and Magnusson senior was judged by Jackie Stewart to be the best ever but couldn't make the grade.

Think you've said it all, s'pose this sort of thing will go on until someone gets badly hurt or worse.

Red Bull will do anything for a bit of publicity, why no dolly bird ?


How can someone get badly hurt in F1 and not get badly hurt in F3 or GP2 ? If a driver is dangerous, he will be dangerous no matter which racing car he is in. Age has nothing to do with this. Some youngsters are very mature for their age, and then there are late 20s and early 30s people who still display immaturity.


If young Verstappen does well then I'd expect quite a few other teams to start hiring teenage drivers. It'll bring fresh excitement, thrills and spills and greater marketing opportunities. The purists among us will moan about racecraft, but the new fans will be treated to 'crash, bang, wallop' racing performed by boy band lookalikes - F1 for the Pop Idol generation. And to think we used to moan about DRS overtakes and double points ...


How silly. As a middle aged man I want to see drivers earn race craft, and have a detailed CV before they join what is the top motorsport in the world. It is like me leaving school at 16 and then expecting to become a high court barrister. The sport should really stop trying to make headlines for the sake of funding, and instead put proven racers is cars.

I certainly wouldn't pay hundreds of pounds to watch a group of teenagers race around a nit of tarmac.Instead I would rather watch those that put everthing on the line in a bid to make it.


Perhaps Haas F1 should enter as Bieber F1 Team

Imagine the screaming engi … euhm girls …



Max is too young and because of this he is likely to fail! If he was given the chance to gain track experience in the senior junior categories and come into F1 in a couple of years time when he has matured then he could go on to be a world champion, in the right team.

I heard his live interview and he definitely needs to be coached in media qualities as he was giving short answers without properly explaining himself.

If he does succeed it won't be with Red Bull but with one of the other midfield teams who are prepared to take him on so he can then jump into a senior team.

I do wish him all the best indeed, however!


I don't think he should have the chance to show if he's good enough; he is too young.


Darren, I don't believe that most here are bemoaning his lack of 'mautruity' except with respect to race craft. How to deal with traffic, how to preserve tires, when to push, when to back off, how to adjust to changing conditions on track, how to adapt to problems with the car, how to race in an uncompetative car( so that you are stil performing well, but not being a moving road-block), etc. ,etc. These are all part of 'race craft' and while not relevant to one lap speed, are extremely relevant to overall performance as well as safety for himself and everyoone else sharing the track with him.

Where your analysis breaks down is that a gymnast or figure skater does not have to deal with traffic or changing conditionis and puts no one else at riak. I can guarantee that other F1 pilots are going to have much less concern about his speed than about sharing the track with such a neophyte.



I assume that young Max has been encountering and passing traffic in racing situations for some time now. His ability to deal with it successfully is one of the reasons he was just awarded an F1 seat for 2015 ahead of older drivers.

The race craft issue, at least in an F1 context, cannot be addressed in another series with other cars. Every F1 rookie has to learn to handle their new F1 equipment. The current F1 season provides us with a nice contrast on this exact point. Kimi Raikonen's full throttle track re-entry vs anything we have see from Daniil Kvyat this season would suggest that the young Kvyat is the more mature racer. And just to push the point a little further, start typing Felipe Massa's name into the Google search window and the first option to help you more quickly find what you are looking for is "Felipe Massa crash." Go ahead and try it yourself, it's kind of amusing.

The point is that there are 22 cars on an F1 grid, traveling in single file for the most part, so let's not be overly dramatic about the difficulty of handling the traffic. If Verstappen was being asked to drive at full speed into the Arc de Triomphe roundabout during the height of a day's traffic, with only a day's driver training, I think we might have something serious to be concerned about; but he isn't is he? He is a talented young...racing driver.

The point of making comparisons with young athletes in other sports is to demonstrate the ability of young people to handle pressure, a big stage and all of the various elements that encompass maturity and performance at the very highest level of their sport.

It is not like I was talking about bringing a young figure skater into F1...or alternatively...asking Fernando Alonso to go out and perform a Quad Toe Loop at the next Winter Olympics (equally implausible). We are talking about putting a young racing phenom into a new piece of machinery and seeing how he goes...just like when Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikonen, Jenson Button or any other young racer with no F1 experience was given their shot.

The remarkable part of this story is certainly Max Verstappen's age, but the fact of his age will not determine his success or failure in F1.


if max does well it will prove it's possible to do just one season in F3 aged 16 and be ready for F1 the following year. if that's undermining F1 then that's the sports problem so it should make it harder if needs be.


Sooner or later one of these lads is going to have a nightmare session. Even Grosjean went through a phase like this, but a new kid won't have the mental capacity to avoid crumbling. And Torro Rosso won't care. Hell, they even sack their drivers in December, so there's no hope of them getting another seat. Just make the minimum age 21 and tighten up the super licence requirements. It's fairer for everyone and madman Helmut Marko would be forced to run men instead of children in his Scalextric team.


On a lighter note: Someone famous should challenge Kimi Raikkonen for the Ice Water Bucket Challenge. Com'on Eddie Jordan!

Welcome Home Kimi! Spa is waiting for you!! It is time to hit a few reset buttons in your Ferrari.


Final ALS update (I promise):

Webber completes the ALS challenge and nominates Adrian Newey.


Spa definitely is going to be a wet weekend! I wonder who Newey will nominate …


Some background information and updates about the ALS Ice Water Bucket Challenge:





Thank you Massa for bringing this to the F1 community. I believe it is a great use of social media. A first actually.

Alosno and Ricciardo have 24hrs to respond to Massa's challenge … I am curious who they will nominate 🙂

Montezemolo, Bernie, Horner, Kimi and Eddie Jordan better pack some extra clothing in their suitcase for this weekend …


… Ah! We have a winner! Felipe Massa has done the Ice Water Bucket challenge and has challenged Alonso and Ricciardo. 😀


I suggest we should replace the podium celebrations with Ice water buckets this weekend. It is a charitable challenge for the ALS foundation.


Just to confirm James testing with non current car and ithat includes two year old cars

I found this out by going back and reading one of your websites articles from April 2014.

Here it is.


Superlicense explanation is paragraph 4.


Just to clarity that testing of non current car of which would include a 2012 chassis does not count towards a Grade A super license . You can still qualify for lower grade licenses which are of no use in F1.


Looks like the young man might need the Free Practice appearance towards this years end.


DRS, boring tracks, poor engine sounds, fake tyres, double points rule agreed by all the teams then they go "We are surprised by the negative ractions of the fans"... F1 doesn't know where it's going these days, and Max Verstappen will probably be another example of this.

Drivers nowadays (since free testing restriction at the end of 2007) need a few years to be able to be quick AND consistent enough. Actually Hulkenberg is the only post-2007-generation driver I'd consider as a safe bet.

Of course, Ricciardo and Bottas are brilliant this year but let's wait maybe next year to see if they are real deals, especially Bottas whose Williams was on a few occasions the 2nd best car on the track by a mile.

Kobayashi, Perez, di Resta, Grosjean made a few spectacular races but had also so many downs. Actually maybe Grosjean has really grown into a solid driver but he cannot show it this year with his Lotus.

For Magnussen and Kvyat, time will tell, though some already want to dump them because they do not deliver like pre-2008-rookies, Hamilton, Vettel or Kubica-style.

So now we'll have a 17-year-old son of a Dutch. He will have to perform rapidly because TV exposure doesn't get along with patience. But if Magnussen can have some hopes that the McLaren Honda will be a great car, Verstappen will have to show his worth with a Toro Rosso that seems doomed to be average as best. And after his 3 years cycle, let's hope for him a seat will be free at Red Bull Racing. Otherwise, no other teams may hire him, he will be overlooked as a dubious bet by Marko and nothing else. Which team would have hired Ricciardo had he not been promoted to Red Bull?

kenneth chapman

@ bruno. the very last sentence of your post makes the point. F1 is all the richer now as a result of red bull bringing ricciardo into the frame. a really great talent is now upping the excitement level at each and every race event. a point that has been acknowledged across the entire F1 spectrum.


A very well balanced article James, thanks.

Expanding on the excellent points made already I would like to note the following:

1) I am concerned by how quickly the "natural order of progression" seems to be increasingly swept aside.

da Costa (Antonio, that is) was meant to replace Ricciardo at STR with Sainz Jr being the "outside bet".

We got Kvyat in the end and it seems to have paid off so absolutely fair enough (not that we can presume to know how either of the original "favourites" would have done in the car . . .)

Sainz Jr was then meant to be the next in line, he now has been overlooked too.

Is F1 looking into the rotating doors played by some football clubs with their managers for inspiration ?

2) Verstappen Jr may be the next best thing since sliced bread, who knows (?), but what's with the rush in getting him a race seat into F1 in 2015 already ?

And if it HAD to be in 2015 (more on that below), well why not somehow slot him in with Caterham, why did it HAVE to be the absolute peach of the seats available to Red Bull ?

3) Given that earlier reports had Verstappen Jr positively turning down RBR and settling for Mercedes, is this the latest twist in the one-upmanship between RBR and Mercedes ?

If the carrot was a race seat in 2015 already, which clearly Mercedes cannot provide, then it is a nasty game being played on the back of F1 and its credibility, in my view.

4) As already mentioned by others, what does it say about F1 if a youngster can jump in and be competitive and this in the days of minimal testing ?

Moreover, what does it say about the lower formulae ? In other words, why bother following F3, GP3, Formula Renault . . . etc if the "young talent" is already in F1 ?

I read in the preceding couple of days that with Verstappen Sr having been an F1 driver himself, Jr was bound to have the best advice and guidance possible.

Well . . .

I certainly wish him all the best but have my doubts as to whether this is a wise decision for all concerned, including the driver himself.


Maybe these 2014 F1 cars are not "real cars" at all, as some of us suspected. The fact that all these children can come in and do well without any practice ( well practically none) must mean they are more like video games than cars, that is why the older drivers struggle because they are used to doing thing for real! F1 at 16 it's supposed to be the pinnacle, a sport for men of steel and talent. If a 16 year old can do it then it is too soft and too easy!

kenneth chapman

and hence F1 is not the 'pinnacle' that it purports to be. marginally faster only.


Sod this! I'm off to that real motor sport Formula Ezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.............




Can I add Chris Amon to the list of 19 year olds? According to Eoin Young's biography, when he signed with Reg Parnell in 1963 the telegram confirming the contract read 'Bring letter of authority from father.' He raced at Goodwood on Easter Monday, 1963, and commented, 'It was the first Formula One race I'd seen, and I was in it!' He finished fifth. He made his grand prix debut at Spa soon after, where he still holds the long circuit lap record.

Yes, these are different days, but young drivers are better prepared than ever they were in those days so I wish the boy well. Part of me, though, thinks this is just another headline-grabbing exercise by Red Bull to maximise return from its investment in a junior team.

Craig in Manila

I find it amazing that people are already posting negative comments (questioning a persons 'mental maturity' for example) about a guy that hasn't even raced in F1 and has actually shown great skills in other series.

Let's just see how he goes in 2015 then make judgements based on his performance.

As for his entry potentially "demeaning the integrity of the sport" : give me a break.

And, if he does well, all those highly-paid 30+ year olds had better start looking over their shoulders as it's becoming clearer and clearer that some of these young guns can do just as well as they can (given the right car of course and the right strategy in their earpieces).


James do you think we should be like motogp and give a world title to gp2 and gp3? This might be an incentive to stay in lower categories longer and avoid this whole argument.


Absolutely not

World champion should be the pinnacle

F1 and WEC, WRC - that's it


Formula E is going to be a world championship too.


‘Pinnacle’ – with double points for the last race . . ?


The Red Bull revolving door policy was always a stupid idea. I recall in Toro Rosso's early days, either DM or Helmut said TR is kind of like a training school and if they are good enough they graduate, but that never works as an existing F1 team, it's not like it's another category AND drivers can always elevate to the senior team.

Red Bull should just treat the team as another stand-alone competitor, rather than a junior team and senior team policy.


You can tell it's been 4 weeks since the last race, if this is all we can talk about.


Maybe, but it still beats talking about tyres 🙂


Is there any chance that this is all a very clever ploy by the Sainz family to get their man into a Red Bull in about 5 years time?

Based on the revolving door policy at TR, Kvyatt and Max need to be in an RB by 2016 and 2017 respectively. If Vettel signs another contract, and with Ricciardo doing so well, there may not be room until 2018 or 2019.

If and when Sainz Jr joins TR in 2017, that'll put him in the window should Vettel and/or Ricciardo move on.


I can't help but think of Grojean's early years where he smashed into anyone and everyone...I have a bad feeling about this! I really think that 17 is far too young to be entering F1. I have to agree with the idea of a minimum age limit and a mandatory number of seasons in junior formulae, rather than just a certain number of wins...


Hi Henry,

If I remember correctly, Romain had already a reputation of being "fast but reckless" before replacing Piquet...and the fact it happened mid season did not help him

For Max, what we re told is the opposite and his "cool head" is supposed to be one of his stronger assets...so maybe that is more important than the simple age figure

we'll see

I hope JEV will rebound but I fear it won't be in F1. he would make a good "number 2" at williams besides Bottas for example


"Sink or swim"... You can plan, prepare and practice all you want, but at some point you just need to get tossed in and see what happens...


Yes, 'If you are good enough, you're old enough', but what concerns me isn't his age but his experience - Max will have had just ONE season of single-seater racing under his belt prior to his debut. His hiring is an INSULT to drivers such as Carlos Sainz Jr, who has been a part of the Red Bull Jr team for FOUR years and is currently living up to expectations in 'Formula Renault 3.5'. I'd have given Vergne the remaining eight races of 2014 to prove himself and if he wasn't surplus to requirements, replaced him with Sainz Jr whilst giving Verstappen an opportunity to drive in Friday practice sessions next year. Furthermore, Sauber were heavily criticised when revealing plans to promote Sergey Sirotkin to a race seat this season and he has THREE extra years of experience than his Dutch counterpart!! I'll be watching with intrigue next season...


At first I was on the fence regarding Max, too young, lack of experience all of that. However after reading the endless complaints from middle aged men about "kids these days" I'm now firmly planted in the pro-Max camp. It is obvious that F1 needs some fresh blood and some youthful vigor instead of an endless barrage of "oh no, no, everything was better in the old days".

Times change, that's a fact. And no, I'm not a fan of all of the changes (double points are of course stupid), but it's pointless to navigate by looking in the mirrors .

I hope Max makes a very successful rookie year in F1 to shut up all the negativity. And if he doesn't? Well then this whole debacle did at least mange to rattle the cage a little bit.


you know, after reading all these comments, i am somewhat surprised at the negativity being shown when max hasn't even driven in one F1 race? talk about superficial.

i have to admit that i am frequently amazed at the 'maturity' of young people today. to put this in perspective, young people can master so many skills that older people just cannot manage. mental accuity is certainly heightened by the very society we now live in. i frequently underestimate younger peoples intelligence, ingenuity and adaptability. maybe that is just me but i doubt it. only after vertappen has had at least 6 months in the TR will we be able to materially judge whether he is up there or just another vergne/alger/buemi/speed or dare i say liuzzi. give the kid a chance.


Red Bull must accept full responsibility for the consequences of this decision. I believe they are wrong to put so much pressure and expectation on a "child" of this age. Its now men against boys apparently and I fail to see any logic in this decision other than PR when there are talented and more experienced young drivers out there. Let him learn his trade in a lower formula for at least another year and then see where we are. RB have a lot to answer for and I think the qualifications for a super licence need to be looked at carefully by the FIA in the light of this.

kenneth chapman

@ scott D...why should red bull accept 'full responsibility' for these consequences? did they actually demand his acceptance of a drive at the end of a gun pointed at their heads? c'mon. time to reflect and take a cool look before issuing a damning appraisal.

do you seriously think for one minute that red bull didn't weigh up all the possibilities, look at the performance levels, look at the mental ability to handle a car in challenging circumstances and peruse all the data tracking flows available? we are talking here about highly paid and professional people making extremely difficult decisions. i will live with that until proved categorically to have been wrong and even then if it was a wrong decision why was it wrong? very complex.


An idea for Red Bull.

You've already proven a lot. Now you have the youngest ever kid in F1. But Newey is bored.

Get a woman into F1. Give her 1 year intro at STR. That year Newey works on absolute optimization of an F1 car to a woman's needs for upcoming season, taking into consideration possible weigth distribution benefits, optimizing systems to female body strength needs. Next year STR becomes the most complete effort to get a woman to a F1 championship. Throw everything behind it. It will be a first, which Red Bull loves. It will be reported everywhere, for as long as F1 exists this achievement will be linked to Red Bull.

Let's get on it. I'm sure Newey would enjoy the challenge. Start the auditions for the driver ASAP. Beside getting Vettel to 8 WDCs, and Max to reset WDC clock at youngest age what other things can Red Bull achieve in F1 beside buying F1 and owning it outright?


Seems ridiculous that someone what was still driving Go-Karts at the end of 2013 is now suitably qualified to drive an F1 car in 2015.

Indicates that F1 is now too easy.


Just another thought. Presumably he is one of the lightest drivers on the grid and so will suit the current minimum weight limits. I hope for his sake he doesn't have a "growth spurt" during the next couple of years!


great article James ...and well said on all points.

'Race car driving' ...as opposed to - 'tearing a fast thing around a track and bugger the consequences' - takes time. Not just talent. Its a learned art.

This is on par with a school kid going up against Brett Lee and James Anderson at a Test match at Lords, both coming in, with a tail wind ..and doing it every second week.

errr ... good luck.


My guess is, if the driver in question was British, you would be talking about how great he was and how good he was gonna be in an F1 car...



kenneth chapman

hahahaha....spot on. it would be headline banners stating' great new british talent' etc etc etc.


Given Max Verstappen's age and limited car racing experience, I would say my minimum expectations from him would be (1) to bring the car home in one piece in majority of the races, (2) to limit the crashes in between practice and qualifying sessions, and (3) to be at most maybe 0.5-0.7s off Daniil Kyvat's pace. But although I am skeptical of Red Bull's (Dr. Helmut Marko's) decision to draft Verstappen Jr. at such a young age, I do hope things go well for the Dutchman and that he meets/exceeds expectations (a la Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, back in 2001). Everyone loves a fairytale ending every now and then.

One thing for sure I hope young Max won't allow to happen is for his temper to get the better of him: at 17 years old, kids still tend to be at that age where they think they're invincible/Superman (e.g. if they went head to head with a freight train, it would be the train that would crumple and not them). I do hope he's mature enough to stay grounded, and that his inner circle will be one that fosters that sort of environment. The last thing anyone would want to happen is for him to get into a devastating accident all because he got carried away by the moment (similar to that recent tragedy in a Sprint Car Race in the U.S., where a young driver was killed when he walked out in middle of track after crashing out, to try and confront the guy he collided with who was still running).

Lastly, I don't think Max Verstappen starting at a such young age diminishes F1 or is a sign that F1 is getting easier. It's just that at this day and age, technology is so advanced (simulators, video games) and information is so readily available, that people belonging to Generations Y and Z are able to take advantage and advance their skills/knowledge at a much faster rate.


He should be in school on fridays.

These machines have obviously become to easy. Physically that is


I think that experts like Prost and Berger know a little bit more than those here on this forum. They think it is the right decision and fully support it.

The kid will do fine..


Hi James,

I visit your website regularly and can sense from the tone of your article how strongly you feel about this. I was surprised Vertsappen was given the drive, not only becaause of his youth but also because of drivers competing in GP2 and other premier single seater series whoa re more deserving of the opportunity.

I remember watching Jenson Button in British F3 on channel 4 in 1999 and then suddenly seeing him in Formula 1 next season!He obviously made the most of the opportunity as did Raikonnen but as I recall the Williams test opportunity was also given to Bruno Junquiera,then racing in Formula 3000.

I do wish Vertsappen all the best but it is not a decision that sits well with me...



We've got it wrong a few times re the new drivers (or new pair of drivers). We thought that Kimi was far too inexperienced for F1, that Alonso would crush Hamilton (who would crush Rosberg), that Vettel would crush Ricciardo, and so on. Max may well surprise us.

However, he will have to grow quite quickly up to F1 standards if he wants to survive - I got a bit concerned when I read his BBC-R5 quote of "I think the biggest step I had was karting to F3. I think F3 to F1 will be a smaller step." I'm not an insider, but I would tend to disagree on that one.

By the way, James - good to know that Jaime will be racing in FE, he deserves a decent seat.



did you notice autosport.com is preparing ground for the next gimmick: "Reverse grids would

guarantee F1 action" ?


(subscription required)

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain... .


I hope the reverse grids do not materialize. What's the point of qualifying then?

I am more in favor of getting rid of qualifying altogether and let the cars start in the order they finished the last race. This will encourage racing on race day as it will have an influence on your grid position in the next race.

Saturdays could be reserved for testing and the fans.


I'm not keen on the idea of grids based on the previous race and I do enjoy watching qualifying, but I'll take your idea over reverse grids any day.


Is it a really a matter of drivers or their age? Red Bull was competing Mercedes to have Max in their boat. Red Bull had just a card Mercedes didn`t to give a guy F1 seat. Surely Mercedes was slapped by Red Bull and they are having a war there. So, like in war there will be casual victims and in this case it can be viewers, Max, other drivers and as James delicately put- F1.... but in real world it is just a natural involvement of things where everything happens for a reason and in such a competitive environment you have to do things before others.

You start sooner you burn out quicker. Nobody cares about that, even his own dad pushes him on. Embrace the fact and try to enjoy F1 as long as you can. They don`t care of their own, why should we?

About this Alonso guy and constant case of putting him as a yardstick- one swallow doesn` t make a summer and he is more a exception than a rule, and he did spent years in no competitive environment. He even didn`t know what to expect in a near future. So he had time for himself to grow but today guys have to deliver right away and they know exactly what to expect - who wants to know their time of death? Sometimes not knowing is a bless.

Kieran Donnelly

I see no real reason why he won't be like any other new driver coming into Formula 1. He may surprise us with talent or, equally, with stupid mistakes; he may just fail to impress or not be able to adjust to F1 driving and slide out of view like so many other highly-rated also-rans. Were these drivers bad drivers? For the most part, probably not but they suffered from reliability issues, poor cars, problems with tyres or brakes or car balance that they just could not drive around, or merely were always in the shadow of a mercurial team-mate. Some who had done so well elsewhere then never managed to succeed in F1 - others who were written off (Grosjean) would now be pretty highly rated. Max will have to tread his own path through the minefield - skill and chance will play equal part in whether he makes it through or not

kenneth chapman

a well reasoned approach.


While I wish Max Verstappen the best of luck I hope we are not graced with his father doing interviews from the paddock on TV.



I feel the biggest issue is not so much the age because he will get some practice this year and in testing the car next year. It will be the strength and stamina required to drive the car for up to two hours in a sport where a tenth of a second can make all the difference.

Age nowadays is less of an issue than before because people simply grow up quicker. Age never stopped any of these self-made millionaires online or any of these footballers.

How young is too young? The FIA made their ruling so let's see. A mature 17 year old is fundamentally more mature than an immature 29 year old.

What if this guy does NOT disobey team orders like Vettel, is he more mature? What if he doesn't post pics on Twitter, is he more mature than Lewis? What if he doesn't sulk and try to blackmail his team over a spygate scandal or benefit from a team mate crashing, is he more mature than Alonso? Or maybe he won't cry "understeer" every time he drives the car badly compared to a team mate like Button. Is he thus more mature than the four World Champions above if he just does none of them things? I find them all immature when they moan about not being allowed past, moan about the team publicly and pretty much do things the rest of us would be fired for.

Maybe he has discipline. Maybe he listened to his grandparents. Maybe he doesn't believe the sun shines out of his behind. Because of that, he may well be the most mature driver out there. We just don't know. That is not down to age and all about upbringing.

Given his dad didn't exactly set the world alight, perhaps he has learned from that and applied himself xx% more than his father could.

Sure, he will lack experience but then we all once kissed a girl for the first time, all once had a first job, all once sat a first exam and all once sat in a car for the first time. Given for all of them experiences, we all went in cold turkey with no coaching, what makes us think it will be any harder for an already amazing driver to jump into a car that on the basic level is simply faster and more powerful than the ones he's already driven? It is a big step but not quite as big as going from never racing to F1. He will be ok I am sure.

kenneth chapman

@ jason....some very good points raised there and i agree with most of them. well said.


Interesting that in yesterdays press conference a lot of the drivers said they'd have struggled at 17 but now it's not such a problem because the cars are physically easier to drive. They suggested the barrier before was purely physical and not ability or race craft.

With the physical aspect of F1 hugely reduced it seems 17 isn't such a big deal any more.

My concern with bringing in such a young driver to F1 is that if it is too soon he could be washed up and out of the sport by 18 or 19. Red Bull could actually be denying us some great future 25 year old racers.


I bet we see the waterworks his first stack.


I will 'bet' that wee young Max Verstappen racing in orange next year will be just like any other young upstart, or perhaps even worst, and he will be a frequent 'crasher' for at least a couple of years before he even begins to understand what racing in F1 is all about!

Daniel Ricciardo is doing well this year because he already has a few years' experience in F1, and he has also benefited from the new regulations which is negating most drivers of their experience of previous cars, and thus acting as a leveller, as Vettel has found!

Daniel Ricciardo is possibly a champion of the future, if fate is in his favour, with a great car and a good team!?


It amuses me all these people saying that he's too young only having done karting and a season of F3. Maybe they should try a season of karting and find out how good these kids really are. It's not sliding around warehouses in little 50cc toys. How can any armchair critic judge whether he is ready, unless they have dedicated their life to a single pursuit since they were 4.

I wouldn't have been ready for anything at 17. Nor was Taki Inoue clearly, judging by his very funny tweet.

But, if he's good enough, good luck to him. Max was in discussion with Mercedes too so it's clear that he has some talent.


Mr.Allen, how would you think about Max Verstappen join Formula 1 at next years?


Could it be that F1 fans are reacting poorly to the notion of 16-year-old Max Verstappen joining Toro Rosso next year? Or, was it Jacques Villeneuve’s recent comments that started the ball rolling?

Regardless, at present Superlicence requirements seemingly conspire to allow a teenager with one car-racing season behind him to jump straight into F1 while more experienced drivers can’t get a Superlicence because…why exactly?

So the FIA is going to review the licensing requirements with a proposal due out in December of this year for implementation in time for the 2016 season. Convenient, as it fails to address the current controversy.

No doubt F1 will now be racing (no pun intended) to find 15-year-olds and younger to fill race seats before the new rules come into force. Hopefully, exaggerating here, but where do you draw the line on age eligibility or do you?

If Verstappen is competitive next year it will make a mockery of the supposed race craft and skills needed to succeed in Formula One, and if that is the case, there’s a lot of over-paid “fat cats” in F1 bilking us ticket buyers because how can you truly claim F1 is the top echelon of motorsport now!

Another example of F1 is reacting with glacier speed and a lack of urgency to yet another potentially damaging controversy.

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