Superkid Max Verstappen confirmed for Toro Rosso race seat in 2015
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  18 Aug 2014   |  8:34 pm GMT  |  180 comments

Red Bull tonight announced that Max Verstappen will be handed a race seat at Toro Rosso for the 2015 season. His 17th birthday is next month..

Less than a week after the Dutch racer, who is the same age as children collecting their GCSE exam results this week, signed for Red Bull’s Junior Team it was this evening announced on the company’s Austrian television station, Servus TV, that he will drive for Toro Rosso next season in place in Jean-Eric Vergne. The French driver is set to part company with Toro Rosso in November after three seasons with the Faenza-based squad.

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Presuming that the 2015 season will start in mid-March, Verstappen will be aged 17 years and 5 months when he makes his grand prix debut next year. He will thus become the youngest driver ever to race in Formula One, taking the accolade from former Red Bull junior Jaime Alguersuari, who made his debut at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix aged 19 years and 125 days.

Verstappen, the son of former Benetton racer Jos, is a world kart champion and currently racing in the FIA F3 European Championship. He made the switch from karts to cars less than a year ago and has 8 wins from his 25 races so far, enough to qualify for an FIA super licence. But established F1 stars may question whether he is too inexperienced to race at the highest level.

Last weekend at the Nurburgring he claimed his eighth win of the season. He is currently in second place in the championship standings with 325 points, 77 behind series leader Esteban Ocon, with two race weekends and six rounds left.

Verstappen’s countrymen Jan Lammers and current Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde were both quoted this week by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf as saying that the prodigy is not too young to race in F1.

“In terms of age, it can be very easy,” Lammers said. “At the age of 4, Max was already in a kart and the transition from Formula 3 to Formula One is not illogical. Alain Prost, Kimi Raikkonen, myself, we all did it. No one should forget that Max is a talent of the highest quality.”

Van der Garde added: “Personally, I think 17 is very young, but some are just mature earlier than others. When I look at myself, I was absolutely not ready for Formula One. Of course, it helps that his father Jos was in Formula One and knows exactly how everything works.”

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Where the decision leaves Vergne is not clear. The French driver is currently 13th in F1 Drivers’ Championship standings, with 11 points, three ahead of 15th-placed team-mate Daniil Kvyat.

Twenty-four-year-old Vergne is ahead 6-5 in the qualifying battle with his 20-year-old Russian team-mate and has four points finishes to his credit this year, including two eighth-place results, in Australia and Canada. Kvyat, too, has scored points four times, with a best finish of ninth, in Australia and Britain.

For most people it’s the age at which they start learning to drive, let alone race an 800 horsepower F1 car.

Do you believe 17 years old is too young to race in Formula One? Let us know your thoughts.


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Hyper Chicaine Technique

This is a slap in Carlos Sainz Jr’s face, if you ask me. He’s dominating the Renault 3.5 series this year and has shown in YDT that he has the pace to hang with the F1 field.

Verstappen seems to have a lot of potential but thats all it really is right now. Potential. Lots of young, racy drivers with potential have come and gone in F1 that started when they were much older and more mature. There must be some underlying agenda here. Its gotta be the kid’s last name and the potential sponsorship money that has leapfrogged him to the top rung.

kenneth chapman

if carlos sainz is that good then i am sure another top team will snap him up quicksmart.


@ james…completely OT. you were going to look into the non notification in the email ‘inbox’ for me some time back! it was there for about two weeks then it disappeared. any news there about whether or not it will be reinstated?


Not aware of any changes in last few weeks.


thanks again james, good of you to bother, cheers. by the way, i heard today that mark webber will be replacing AJ as support commentator to rusty next year. that is great news as he has just so much background to enlarge upon race by race. looking forward to it. AJ although a decent enough chap is just past it and adds little to the program.

kenneth chapman

thanks for the reply james. i’m still not getting any responses posted in to my inbox. maybe a quick check for me would be much appreciated. am i the only one though? are all other posters regularly getting notifications? would appreciate it if some could respond…thanks.


Only one other. We are still seeing the email notifications.

Will look into it


Interesting move. On the age/pressure thing, there are other sports where teenagers compete at the highest levels – swimming, for one, and tennis for another. Not the same as motorsport for sure, but the external pressures are similar.

The experience level is what’s surprising. He’s not got that much single seater seat time, which suggests that his kart experience translates very well, even down to tyre management and such.

I think Red Bull can stop pretending that they’re running a driver development programme, though – what they’re doing is a driver *search*. They’ll develop them if they have to, but they’d clearly rather get one who is (at least partly) ready made.


This is really silly decison on so many levels its not funny. I dont care if the kid is brilliant in GP3 – its not F1. In physical,mental, and emotional terms 17 is a big step off 18 and its another step to 20 or 21. Yes we are seeing Kvyat doing a tremendous job at 19 but like I said that is quite a big step.

Most importantly Sainz who proved himself at last years young driver test -at least on par with Kvyat is missing out !! I’m hearing Marko is trying to get him a drive with Marussia . It must be money and big names coming together. Like many have said whats the hurry – at least give the guy time to climatise to F1 with reserve driver/ Friday practise sessions. Im really amazed at this- sure he could be the next big thing but like many have said he could be gone because hes not ready and in F1 there is too much risk/ committment riding to change drivers if things fail.


Good going RedBull. If this kid can give the big boys a good run for their money, we are looking at a bright future for Redbull Racing.


Talent over common sense. Some people close to him and his team may have some tough questions to answer for themselves if it all goes wrong and a promising career is wrecked by chasing the dream too early. 17 and fast driver – yes. 17 and able to recognise, accept and manage the pressures of the F1 world – tough ask for anyone, let alone someone of school age.


If he’s good enough now, then he will still be good enough when he’s 21…

kenneth chapman

no bob, he’ll be even better having had three years of F1 under his belt.


Very concerned about this. Where will it ever end? At 17, you are still officially a child. Regardless of how mature this 17 year old is, he’s too young. You should have to work to get to F1. Otherwise we’ll have a load of spoilt brats like in football.

I note he’s signed for Toro Rosso. He’ll be on the scrapheap by the time he’s 20.


F1 drivers are starting to look like X-Factor hopefuls!! We hear all the razzamatazz “Most gifted ever – very mature for age – currently in third in ‘whatever’ race category” then 2 seasons later they’re out to make way for the next ‘Big New Kid on the block’……WINNING GP2 or 3 should be a prerequisite to F1 otherwise just like our X-Factor winners, 2 years later we’ve all forgotten their names.


I’m pretty sure I still remember Ricciardo…


I bet Jenson Button is feeling like a grandad right now…good luck to him and I hope he proves the doubters wrong. 17 or 47, if you’re fast enough you deserve a shot.


If he isn’t 17 yet he’s too young to hold a road licence , at least in the UK. I thought you couldn’t get a competitions licence in the UK without a road licence so have the FIA given him a super-licence ?

I don’t think there is any reason why a 17 year old can’t drive an F1 car to a decent standard. But if a driver hasn’t competed in a decent number of races before GP2 or similar I think there is a serious question mark about putting them on the F1 grid.

There’s obviously pressure to get someone who might be the next big thing under contract, but if come Australia Max finds himself well up the grid are the drivers round him going to be slightly nervous of what someone with one season of F3 experience might do at the first corner ? I’d argue for a minimum number of races in specific formulae before issuing a super licence, and that probably would rule out 17 year olds.


Agreed – the hilarious thing is he cannot legally race a Super kart on a long circuit anywhere in the world as he is too young and has no licence – he can enter at the back with crosses on his number plates denoting he is a rookie but has to be 17 and hold a valid driving licence

Explain that?

kenneth chapman

obviously the super cart rules are clearly outdated.


Oh and one other thing, if he gets on the podium, in several places they won’t be able to present him with the champagne because of his age.


No, you can compete (in the UK anyway) as soon as you are 14, which is the minimum age to obtain an MSA competition licence for cars.


Too young for F1, both mentally and physically, and not enough experience, no matter how “level headed” he may be. It’s one thing being quick enough, it’s another thing entirely to have the ability to adapt to specific high pressure situations. Makes a mockery of the feeder formulas. Let him learn his craft in a lower formula for at least another year and he will be an even better (and safer) driver.


What a great news for (esp. Dutch) racing fans. Yes, I’m one of them

To all those who question whether it’s too soon or max is too young: do you really believe that a big team Like RB/TR choose to throw some money away or put lifes on the line? Siging up the youngest rookie ever doesn’t give the team or company any added prestige. Results will. Presuming that Max will fail directly indicates that you hold very low esteem in the scouting and management skills of the best team in recent F1 history…


No offence but they have done it before…


Toro Rosso/Red Bull must have some confidence in Kyvat’s ability to develop a car – Max would still be learning how to setup an F3 now, so next year will be a massive learning curve for him. I wonder how this will impact the progress of the car over the course of 2015?


As long as he doesn’t drink the podium champagne 🙂

JEV was often quicker than Ricciardo, yet this could be the end of his F1 career. Kyvat has been really impressive, so makes sense to keep him.

I guess Red Bull have lots of data for driver evaluation. Hopefully JEV will get a seat elsewhere.

kenneth chapman

if vergne is as good as a lot of his supporters think then he will be snapped up by another team. then again he may well go to another series where he may do better.


First line, good point 🙂


Is there a minimum age in F1?

I mean, could we see a teenager of 16 on the grid? You’re allowed to drive on the road from age 16, right?

What are the requirements to get a super license in F1?

Let’s hope his career is not finished at the age of 19 …


To your last point…

forgetting about whether he’ll be ‘ready’ at that age, what happens if Kvyat heads off to Red Bull in say 2016, that would leave Ricciardo and Kvyat at the senior squad, perhaps sitting in those seats until 2020. If Toro Rosso continue their three year max trend there won’t be a seat at the big boys table after Verstappen’s three years. He could be on the shelf collecting dust after a three year career before his 20th birthday….

kenneth chapman

so what? without red bull where would he be?

Matthew Cheshire

I think the risk is too high to race a 16 year old. He may be no more likely to have an accident, but if he does his age will be questioned. How will he cope if he causes a major accident?

A promotion too early could be damaging if he doesn’t perform. didn’t that happen to Grosgean?

There seems to be no need for Red Bull to do this. They have too many drivers already. And they have him under contract.


There is no doubt watching Max that he has an uncanny Senna like one-ness with the car under him. His car contriol and ability to fight it out on track is exceptional. One question though – if a 17year old can race and I mean race – not drive – an F1 car, how difficult can it be when everyone in the paddock plus the media would have us belive its so difficult. Perhaps F1 is not the pinnacle of motorsport anymore?


In your first sentence you praise MV and compare him to Senna (Ayrton, I assume 😉 and in your third sentence you question the difficulty of driving an F1 car “if a 17year old can race [one]”. I think that the point here is that MV is not just a random 17 (16 at the moment) year old, but one with “an uncanny Senna like one-ness with the car under him” and whose “car contriol and ability to fight it out on track is exceptional”.

I haven’t followed MV’s career and so I also am worried that he won’t be mature enough for F1, but I hope I’m wrong and wish him the best.


As others have said, If he’s good enough, he’s old enough. However, I do wonder if he’s such genuine hot property that Mercedes and others were sniffing around, he’d have not been better off going with an organisation with a little more patience. It seems to me that Red Bull have got the deal by offering a F1 seat immediately whereas Mercedes et al were maybe offering F1 sim time, young driver tests, maybe a couple of years in GP2 or DTM with no guarantees. Fair enough, may as well take the chance if it comes along but Red Bull don’t have the best record of standing by their man when things don’t go to plan – or even when they do. Red Bull patronage is a mixed blessing, with virtually zero chance of continuing in F1 even if the driver in question actually does fairly well – e.g. Alguesari.



Time will tell!


Had he tested an F1 car already before this signing?

i am really happy for his dad!


Exciting news, no doubt about it. F1 is becoming more like Ender’s game every year. This couldn’t have even been imagined when I was that age (30 odd years ago), what will be next?

The youngest men in F1 are being replace by even younger, let’s just hope that doesn’t quarantine some that only stay due to past success.

On a lighter note, from this day forward he will be best known as Max Vergne-Shlappen.


Anyone who has seen the F3 races this year would have seen the massive progression that Max Verstappen has made since the start of the season. In a very competitive field, and in an average team (have a good study of where his 2 team mates have been this year), he has shown extra ordinary things with the car that he has been given. He seems to have a maturity as a racer that he has learned over the years in karts (being bumped out of races) and also shown again last weekend when Fuoco several times slammed the door shut on him, which easily could have knocked off his front wing but he managed to avoid all that aggressive defending and then took a chance at the end and superbly overtook him a couple of laps before the finish line… finishing 3 after starting 12th in such a field of many talented racers is a great feat.. This is his first year in a racing car and he makes it look like he has been in that car for years… Why waste another year running at the top of a lower class when he just needs bigger challenges … and yes the Formula 1 is a massive challenge.. but looking at Max Verstappen his more than impressive resume and the ease of which he has been able to adapt to new cars and perform in them… he will certainly make more history and will be fantastic to watch in the Formula 1… he is an absolute super racing talent..


I do not think anyone is denying that.

But there is a vast difference in the cars and he cannot test.

Plus regardless of his freakish maturity – 17 is quite simply much too young and puts others at risk.

It also makes a mockery of all those that succeed in the lower formulas..


Can’t wait till the first time Verstappen refers to Kvyat as The Old Man ………

Wonder if T.R. will bring Verstappen in to run a Friday or two before this season is out?


WOW! Cudos to Redbull Racing; thinking of the future… Even if Vettel gets a winning car next year he’s only going to stay around for maybe 1-3 years! Then he’s going to Ferrari or one of the other Grandees.

And when he’s gone, (Vettel), one of the two Toro Rosso boys moves up! As good as Kvyat has looked, so far this year; I predict Verstappen will all but destroy him! If you’re sixteen and have balls and bravado like what we’ve seen from him thus far, I think Kvyat will be the next Vergne, ie. gone… And considering his record, (Vergne) against Riccardo you have to feel sorry for him! But again, you have to respect and admire the choices made by der Helmut ob der Marko! I’m a Lewis fan so you know I’m emotionally all over the place, (ha-ha), but I’m betting on the kid, Verstappen) next year! PS: nice way to step up this year Rosberg!


Again, what record against Ricciardo?

Generalisation. Can somebody actually post overall head to head qualifying and race finishes between JEV and Ricciardo. I was under the impression that Ricciardo was way ahead of JEV.

I do hope JEV gets a seat though, he has done some amazing things and also had his fair share of bad luck.

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