Verstappen: The first of F1’s ‘super-young’ drivers?

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Max Verstappen’s appointment to Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso next year raised eyebrows when it was announced on Monday.

Not merely because the news came just six days after Red Bull confirmed he had joined their young driver programme, but mainly because Verstappen does not turn 17 until the end of next month. That’s the legal minimum age to drive a car on public roads in the UK – something Verstappen will have to wait another year to do in his home country (without supervision).

Formula One has had teenage drivers before, but when Verstappen lines up on the grid at Melbourne next March he will be the youngest driver ever to do so by almost two full years:

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*Assuming he qualifies for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, currently scheduled for March 15th
**Took part in the original start of the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix but that race was abandoned and he did not participate in the restart

Does this remarkable appointment tell us something about the state of modern motor racing or Red Bull’s eagerness to get Verstappen in a car? It’s probably a bit of both.

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While much has been written about how the lack of in-season testing reduces opportunities for young drivers to gain a chance to race in F1, less attention has been focused on how the growing sophistication of simulators, and their use for testing and developing drivers as well as cars, has presented young drivers with new opportunities. For example, real-world experience of driving at F1 tracks is less valuable now young drivers can do it in the simulator.

It’s also true that the performance difference between F1 and junior racing categories has shrunk. This is partly due to ever-tightening constraints on development in F1 which has led to the current cars being in the region of five seconds per lap slower than they were a decade ago.

It therefore follows that new drivers require less time to acclimatise to F1 machinery, and the physical demands of driving are not as high. Factors such as these have created conditions where younger drivers than ever before are considered capable of handling F1 cars.

Is Verstappen getting his chance at such a young age partly because cars are heavier and less powerful than they were ten years ago? And if so, does that mean we can now expect more F1 seats to be filled by 17, 18 and 19-year-olds in coming seasons?

That brings us to the question of how good Verstappen is, how eager Red Bull were to sign him up before a rival did, and whether that hastened the offer to make him an F1 driver. Verstappen was told on the day he joined their young driver programme he will be in a Toro Rosso at Melbourne next year. At least one other team, Mercedes, were pursuing him, and Red Bull’s ability to offer him a seat sooner than their rivals can may well have swung the decision.

Why do Red Bull think so highly of Verstappen? He was a prodigy in karts: never beaten during his first three years of racing, he went on to rout his opponents at international level last season, piling up trophy after trophy.

When he swapped karts for cars the normal caveats about giving him time to acclimatise to the new demands of downforce and myriad set-up options of single-seater racers seemed not to apply.

In the Florida Winter Series – his first experience of slicks-and-wings racing – Verstappen impressed against far more experienced competitors such as Ferrari development driver Raffaele Marciello.

He then took the plunge straight into the most competitive Formula Three championship, the FIA-branded European series. At present he is second in the standings, with much of the gap between him and points leader Esteban Ocon accounted for by Verstappen’s occasional mechanical misfortunes, such as the one which forced him to retire while leading at the Nurburgring on Sunday.

Red Bull motorsport director Helmut Marko singled out one of Verstappen’s earlier wins at the Norisring as part of the reason why they had acted so quickly to sign him:

Whether we will continue to see drivers this young and younger given the chance to compete in F1 will depend partly on how Verstappen fares. If he proves able to cope other teams will have grounds to believe they can also succeed with younger talent.

Changes going on at the levels beneath Formula One mean the supply of aspiring drivers will continue to get younger and younger. Just this week Britain’s Motor Sport Association announced the minimum age for single-seater circuit racing competitors in the UK will be lowered to 15 years in some circumstances.

Are there any dangers of allowing ever younger drivers to race in Formula One? Some have been too quick to assume youth automatically means ‘inexperienced’ and ‘unpractised’. Instead we should ask what consequences this development might have for other young drivers who want to develop careers in motor racing.

Seeing a 17-year-old race in the top flight will put greater demands on younger karters and racers to put their track time before the other priorities of youth – such as gaining an education in readiness for the inevitability that not all of them will become racing drivers.

Formula One’s youngest…

If all goes according to plan for Max Verstappen he will have more than one season to beat these records.

Pole position

Driver: Sebastian Vettel
Age: 21 years, 79 days
Race: 2008 Italian Grand Prix

Unseasonal rain lashed the Monza autodrome throughout the 2008 race weekend. While championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa slipped up, Sebastian Vettel wielded his Toro Rosso STR3 to superb effect, taking his first of 45 pole positions to date. But this proved only the first act in a weekend which announced Vettel as a driver to watch.


Driver: Daniil Kvyat
Age: 19 years, 329 days
Race: 2014 Australian Grand Prix

Verstappen’s future team mate also caused a stir when he was revealed as Toro Rosso’s new driver for this season, as many had assumed the seat would go to the more experienced Antonio Felix da Costa. But despite limited testing time, reliability problems with the new Renault engine and never having raced at Melbourne before, Kvyat secured a top ten starting position in a wet qualifying session and brought the car home in the points.

Fastest lap

Driver: Nico Rosberg
Age: 20 years, 263 days
Race: 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix

Victory in the inaugural GP2 championship in 2005 propelled Nico Rosberg into Formula One with Williams the following year. He didn’t cover himself in glory at his first start in Bahrain, tangling with Nick Heidfeld. But after a pit stop for a new front wing he recovered to finish seventh behind team mate Mark Webber, setting the fastest lap along the way.

Race win

Driver: Sebastian Vettel
Age: 21 years, 79 days
Race: 2008 Italian Grand Prix

Vettel duly converted his ‘youngest ever pole position’ into the ‘youngest ever race victory’. More rain meant the race started behind the Safety Car, and once it began he pulled out an 11-second lead over Heikki Kovalainen’s pursuing McLaren by lap 17. It put him on course for a stunning victory – Toro Rosso’s only win to date.

Podium trio

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica
Average ages: 23 years, 356 days
Race: 2008 Italian Grand Prix

Vettel was joined on the podium by two other drivers who were tipped as future talents. However Kovalainen was dropped by McLaren the following year and Kubica’s F1 career was ended by a rally crash in 2011.

In a landmark season for junior drivers, the second-youngest podium of all time occurred just four races before this one with an entirely different trio: Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr and Felipe Massa.


Driver: Sebastian Vettel
Age: 23 years, 140 days
Race: 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

With a championship-challenging car underneath him in 2010, Vettel produced a campaign of excellent performances punctuated by a couple of embarrassing mistakes and a few costly car failures. He went into the final race trailling team mate Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, but a tactical mis-step by Ferrari helped Vettel become the youngest driver to lift the most coveted crown in motor sport.

Over to you

Will Verstappen prove the first of a new generation of ‘super-young’ drivers? Or is this a one-off promotion based on the promise he has shown so far and Red Bull’s eagerness to prevent a rival team from signing him up?

And should there be a minimum age for Formula One drivers? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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54 comments on “Verstappen: The first of F1’s ‘super-young’ drivers?”

  1. More than half the ‘young’ records are held by Toro Rosso anyway. So I think, does it really look good on your CV to have a bunch of ‘young’ guy records? Vettel was a different case altogether, but what if Jamie Alguersuari had held some of these ?

    1. Toro Rosso arent there for the races, the podiums, the wins, nothing like that. They are there to get Red Bull brilliant drivers, such as Vettel and his 4 WDCs and Ricciardo, who is currently beating him. Red Bull’s current line-up is the strongest they have ever had, and both of them came from TR.

      1. And to be honest, I do like this way more then backmarker-teams using pay-drivers. At least TR (Red Bull) is trying to find real talent out there (as young as they are)!

        Should there something be changed, then it should be the pay-drivers (look what just happened at Caterham > bizarre, regarding they also have Frijns as a test driver)

      2. @austus the BIG problem with that is that Ricciardo and Vettel are very, very young. So what’s the prospect of Verstappen and Kvyat joining any of them at Red Bull?

        Maybe if Vettel leaves Red Bull, one of them will join Ricciardo. But not both, definetly. So one is going to be fired. And there’s never been a Toro Rosso driver signed by another team. Their sponsorship seems so good and tight for those drivers that once fired, they have nothing to stand for in terms of monetary support.

        I’m sure Verstappen is very skilled. And if Kimi jumped in F1 with only 23 races under his belt, why wouldn’t Max succeed aswell? but at Red Bull?…

        Of course we’re not sure about the details in the contract but I’d have gone for Mercedes… they have less drivers in development than Red Bull (none?), so he’d be granted promotion. And with Mercedes being an engine supplier, maybe he’d have gone to Force India or Williams for his debut.

        More chances to STAY in F1 rather than get there no matter the costs.

        1. i dont see the “BIG problem”.

          1. Toro Rosso acts as a school for Red Bull but Red Bull doesn’t need so many drivers in the near future. That’s a BIG problem, because it totally cancels out the purpose of Toro Rosso.

            WHat are they going to do with 5 potential Red Bull material drivers if there’s only 2 spots available, which are filled by a very young 4 time WDC and a very young 2 time GP winner who’s just graduated from STR?

            STR is as far as most of them will ever go.

    2. Or rather, many of them are held by Vettel.

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    20th August 2014, 11:16

    It is madness beyond all comparison. Red Bull’s Junior Team has become Single Seaters Got Talent, where eye-catching and crucially well-publicized exploits earn F1 contracts, and warm manure is poured over the hitherto exciting careers of Carlos Sainz, and Alex Lynn, and Pierre Gasly, and Jean-Eric Vergne, and Antonio Felix da Costa…

    As for experience, whilst Kvyat had little knowledge of a powerful single seater, Max has none. This year he is driving a ten year old Dallara F3 chassis, next year he’ll be driving not one of the fastest cars in circulation, but the second volume of the most recalcitrant F1 cars since the ’80s. I’ve been a big fan of what Max has managed this year, but he will crumble…even with “the Boss” by his side. And with Kvyat he doesn’t exactly have an experienced team leader as a benchmark. Ultimately the removal of Vergne will damage Kvyat’s career, and premature promotion will damage Max’s. Period.

    Hopefully once the smoke has cleared from the 2015 pipe dream Max will be able to get his career back on track and re-enter F1 with his reputation not damaged unduly, and hopefully young drivers will recognize how abysmally Red Bull treat their “contestants” and opt for Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus or Force India support instead…

    1. I agree about everything you said about Max his career. I completely disagree with your point of view on Toro Rosso and Red Bull their junior programme.

      Every driver believes in himself that he or she can become WDC. These days you need to be part of a team long before you can get a seat with them. Before racing in F1 you’re competing against other drivers in that junior programme. Of course it is your goal to win the championship you’re in but you also want to impress those who govern that junior program. In the end you want to be the best. Why then is it such a problem that these youngsters commit themselves to the most competetive pool of talent to show they are the best? People slander on the Red Bull Junior program to often without realising what it is for. It’s sole purpose it to supply top notch drivers to both Toro Rosso and Red Bull. If you’re not competetive enough to fight other junior drivers in the programme then you are thrown out. That is not harsh, unfair or unkind. That is F1. Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and many other teams have their junior programmes but they offer nothing more than an occasional friday testing. When was the last time you saw a rookie test in the Ferrari …

      We must give credit to McLaren for taking on Magnussen although they had others waiting in line and still chose Perez in 2013. Red Bull on the other hand has arguably two of the best drivers on the grid who both conquered their seat from Toro Rosso on. One is a four times world champion and the other one is bound to become one. What can Marciello, Bianchi, Vandoorne (my own countryman) say?

      Of course you’re thrown out when you don’t perform. It’s exactly the way it goes in a corporation. If I don’t do my job properly after they hired me, there should be no angry feelings towards the company.

      If a driver really believes he is ready to become a WDC he should choose for the Red Bull Junior programme. If he really is the best, he will get there, if not then he at least tried instead of sleeping around in lower series untill finally those 30+ year old granddads decide to leave F1.

      Vergne did not impress enough to stay with them but I’m sure he’ll land a seat somewhere where the standards aren’t that high. For me Sainz should’ve been in the STR next year with Verstappen another year in GP2 or FR3.5. DaCosta didn’t really impress, except for 2012, and isn’t even a part of the junior programme anymore.

      Kvyat his step from GP3 has shown it is possible. From F3 however is another case…

      1. GP3 and F3 are pretty much the same, no?

        The ‘normal’ order of the feeder series is tier 1: FR2.0/Formula BMW. Tier 2: F3/GP3 and Tier 3: GP2/FR3.5. Other less established categories (like Super Formula or whatever it’s called) mostly fall into the first and second tier.

        Kimi Raikkonen did only 1 year in FR2.0 (23 races which is less than half of what Max will have done), Jenson Button did 1 year in Formula Ford (what ever happened to that category?) and 1 yr in F3, Alonso I believe only did 2 yrs as well (he did Formula Nissan if I’m correct which now is FR3.5). So I guess it’s not that unpresidented.

        It’s just that Max quit karting a yr or 2 earlier than most (after winning 10 domestic championships, multiple Euro/Wolrd/Master series and 2 European titles and World title…) and skipped both the 1st and 3rd tier of the junior formulae.

        Make no mistake about it, this kid has WDC potential no doubt. I personally believe he would have benefited from a yr or two in GP2/FR3.5 and do fear he might be thrown into the deep too soon, but then again, when you have no sponsorship money (the Netherlands has racing talent a plenty but isn’t a good market unless you have a billionair daddy with connections hence the difference between Frijns and van der Garde) you have to grab the chance to get in F1 while you can.

    2. On the other hand he could bide his time and not take this opportunity and live to regret it if another chance doesn’t arise. It’s in his hands now… Robin Frijns is a prime example of a driver who many believe deserves a shot at F1 but is not getting the chance, choosing not to take Red Bull’s support has cost him in this respect. Whilst I agree with you to a degree, if presented with the chance to race in F1, at any age, it would be virtually impossible to resist.

      I still hope that Frijns can get a seat in the near future, but this is F1 and money talks much louder than talent these days. On Red Bull’s treatment of their drivers, have they really made any bad decisions in F1? They signed Vettel and have 4 WDCs and WCCs, they promoted Ricciardo which is looking like a very wise decision. Kvyat was a surprise but again, he’s not looked too shoddy. Alguersuari and Buemi? Are they really missed? As for Vergne, I was excited by his arrival having seen what he was capable of in F3 but he really hasn’t shone as brightly in F1. I’ll watch Max with interest, he’s on an extremely steep learning curve but there’s no reason yet to suggest he can’t succeed.

      Oh, hang on… I’ve just remembered Liuzzi, Speed and Bourdais.

    3. Correct me if I am wrong but his Car is 2012 spec F3, not a ten year old one. So I take it as just big mouth talk from someone who does not know what he is talking about.

      Anyway in the past the step from F3 to F1 was normal, it was the most common way to go in the past. And it never bothered drivers like Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Mansell, Button, etc. Kimi made a bigger jump from his FR to F1.

      Vettel and Alonso used WSR Rosberg and Hamilton used GP2 but the fact that a driver gets promoted from F3 to F1 is not bizar. And the modern GP2 championship is sick and needs to change, I can almost predict every champion at the beginning of the season before the first race. Only time I would be wrong was because Ericcson is a very weak driver for not taking the title.

    4. Should Verstappen’s sojourn in F1 not work out, he might have difficulty finding a feeder series for which he is eligible. I think you’re allowed about 3 races in F1 before a driver becomes ineligible for GP2. Not sure what the situation is for WSR.

      1. I thought Grosjean went back to GP2 after failing in F1.

        1. As long as you did not complete full season F1 or hold the Gp2 title you can drive Gp2.

        2. He only did 4 F1 races. You definitely aren’t allowed a whole F1 season anyway.

          1. Pantano did 14 races, close to a full season. Just as long as you do not complete a season you can return as far as I know. But I can not find the Gp2 rules.

  3. Will Verstappen prove the first of a new generation of ‘super-young’ drivers? Or is this a one-off promotion based on the promise he has shown so far and Red Bull’s eagerness to prevent a rival team from signing him up?

    The ages of drivers coming into F1 has been lower and lower on average. Super talents like Schumacher and Senna got young in the sport aswell but it now seems a trend younger drivers, less talented appear on the entire grid. Due to cash or whatever reason. For me he is to young. But this could work, somehow. And if it does other teams will keep their eyes open and possibly take these kind of risks aswell.

    And should there be a minimum age for Formula One drivers? .

    I think age doesn’t matter. An obliged two seasons in a competetive single seater racing series is, excluding karting. Be it GP3, GP2, FR2.0, FR3.5, F3, Super Formula, ….

    1. @xtwl I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there with regard to obligatory experience. Although Senna was 24, and that was young for the time, he had raced and won in Formula Ford 1600, British and European Formula Ford 2000 and British F3 by the time he got to test F1. Verstappen has talent to burn but without experience I have reservations.

      Also, does anyone know if simulators replicate on track battles with other cars during the race and if so how advanced is the AI? From what I understand the simulator is essentially a private test day which lends almost nothing to race craft.

      1. @rbalonso I think the way Maldonado drives answers that question? Of course for others like Chilton it’s a complete race simulation…

        1. chilton fan number 1
          21st August 2014, 0:04

          Chilton just practices pulling over and slowing down…

    2. I like the idea of mandating minimum competitive experience. After all, that was the idea behind categorising the junior series into different tiers, reflected in the progression of the licences required for each tier. Jumping up the ranks may be justified by a driver’s talent, but it isn’t a responsible way to nurture young talent. You wouldn’t throw a GCSE student into medical school without first taking A’ Levels, no matter how much of a prodigy (s)he was.

      I do think age matters to a certain extent as well. While it does vary from person to person, a 17-year-old doesn’t have the emotional maturity of a 22-year-old in general. Living life under the scrutiny of the media and the public is a lot to expect of a 17-year-old.

  4. I think this is a case of wait and see what the outcome is. This is truly an experiment, and while we can compare F1 drivers with other sporting superstars that have come up and risen to the peak of their chosen sport in their mid to late teens. I think that there are still more than reflexes at work when it comes to racing an F1 over the course of a season.
    I wish Max all the luck, he’ll need some. However, I also feel that this isn’t a ludicrous idea to trial, especially from an F1 team who has devoted itself to picking youngsters.

  5. Will the F1 still be considered as the ultimate form of racing if kids are allowed to jump from the stroller to the state-of-the-art car? And then what? Given the short career most pilots have in F1, will they be trashed, even before their majority?

    To stand up for youngsters with absolutely no background or history is less enjoyable IMO.

  6. I don’t like the fact that Max had been written off because of his age. He seems to be a promising talent, so let’s just hope that toro Rosso give him long enough to prove himself. If he’s as good as he has been in f3, it’s kvyat I’m worried about.

    Any rumours about ocon? Of grosjean moves on, is a promotion out of the question?

    1. I would think the drivers participating in GP2 and WSR ought to be most worried. All of a sudden teams are looking to lower series for F1 graduates, while they are having to bring a lot of money for a drive that probably won’t lead anywhere.

    2. Ocon is now part of Mercedes young driver programme and is extremely talented himself. I think both Ocun and Verstappen can race in GP2 now and make an impact. However, I doubt they would have the same kind of impact in F1 if they entered the series tomorrow, but in 2/3 years they can be just as good as Lewis was when he joined McLaren.

      Talent in feeder series is abundant, with so little seats and so many pay drivers getting a drive for young drivers is becoming very difficult. Many top drivers may end their careers without racing a GP as a F1 driver…

  7. Looking at the numbers and I am a bit confused: how can the pole position and race win be the same with 21 years, 79 days when those were on different days?

    I looked at statsf1 and that says the same, just put as 21 years, 2 months and 11 days.

    Am I missing something about how this is calculated?

    1. @quinnuendo So it should be 21 years and 80 days for race win…

    2. Because the start of the race is on the same day as the win. It is not the day you drive the time but the day you actually get to start from P1.

      He could have gotten a penalty between qualifying and the start and then would have lost the record.

      1. @Zanquis Thank you for the info – it’s clear now :) The record is for starting from pole, not for getting the pole position from the qualifying session.

  8. I think it’s a one off. Red Bull just see an enormous talent in Verstappen, they see him as one in century driver, with maybe more potential then Vettel had at his age. They just couldn’t miss such opportunity and landed him a seat, though at least a year too early.

  9. I think you guys are underestimating Max. I actually wrote an article “Max Verstappen, too fast too soon?” on the same subject. (I won’t put a link on this site, because that’s just rude)
    Don’t forget that his father jumper straight from F3 into a Footwork F1, at Estoril on the Monday after the GP of Portugal. On his 7th lap ever in an F1, he already improved the qualifying time set by Suzuki in that same car. This is the gene pool that Max taps from….
    And don’t think that Max’ test in an FR3.5 was just a photo-op, RB wanted to see how quickly he could adjust to the extra power, and they were pleasantly surprised. Give him a chance before you start throwing “periods”.
    P.S. The FIA F3 European Championship uses the 2012 Dallara, not 10-year-old cars.

    1. It’s not just the potential talent that is the issue – the annals of F1 are littered with drivers who appeared to have talent to burn in junior series who never delivered that potential in F1.

      Jan Magnussen is perhaps the most classic example – a driver who was devastatingly quick in Formula 3 and set an all time British F3 record for wins in a season, but when thrust into F1 completely lacked the mental preparation to succeed in F1.
      He’s just one of a number of similar drivers – a similar issue cropped up with Pizzonia, who was warmly complimented by Williams himself for his ability behind the wheel when testing the car for Williams and was quite successful in Formula 3, but again was completely mentally unprepared for F1 and could never adapt.

      Furthermore, it is perhaps ironic that you cite his father as an example of potential – yes, his father was impressively quick in testing, but there is a world of difference between setting good testing times in a post race test and delivering that during a race (by that same logic, we would be praising Michael Andretti for setting faster lap times in a post British GP test session than Ayrton Senna).
      Only a few weeks before this announcement, Jos himself admitted that he made a big mistake in signing up for F1 – he was under heavy pressure from his backers, but he was unprepared for the environment and felt that he didn’t reach his full potential due to a lack of mental preparation. It was for that very reason that he said that he didn’t want Max to be rushed into F1 too quickly, because he feared that he’d suffer from the same issue of a lack of preparation prior to entering F1 – whilst his position may have changed, those same concerns are still hanging over Max.

  10. This has got me thinking about the original Red Bull line-up in 2006 when David Coulthard was partnered by Christian Klien for the first 3/4 races, then replaced by Vitantonio Liuzzi for the next 3/4. The original plan was that they would alternate, though Klien then completed the season.

    Why not do something like this again? Clearly Lynn, Gasly and Sainz Jr are all deserving of a chance as well; could they not share the drive? The only rule I’m aware of is that teams can only use 4 drivers per season. Please correct me if there are further regulations around this?

    Of course there are benefits and drawbacks to this scheme. One of the main positives being that Red Bull keep their options open; they would not have to discard two potential talents in favour of another. They could potentially have Kvyat/Verstappen sharing one seat and Lynn/Sainz Jr in the other. The best of the four is then clearly best placed to be promoted should Vettel/Ricciardo decide to go elsewhere.

    Toro Rosso is clearly not fighting for the World Championship, so the drivers would not need to be in the car every race in the way Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel needs to be.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    1. @ben-n, if we believe that STRs raison d’etre is to find and test talent then your scenario sounds like an excellent idea. What though would happen if they found they had 4 drivers of VET, RIC, HAM, ALO quality I wonder.

  11. So Carlos Sainz has not do anything to impress you, Helmut Marko. The more I know Marko, more a I hate him. Still I cannot believe that.

    1. It’s easy to hate Marko for many things, as there are currently more than 20 drivers that were in the RB junior programme without getting the promotion. Carlos Sainz took a severe knock last year, being always in the shade of Kvyat. This year, he went to WSR in the lead DAMS that Kevin Magnussen drove to the title. Best team, weak teammate (Nato), weak opposition (before Merhi came mid season, at the Zeta Corse team that was an embarrassment last year). Once Vandoorne went to GP2, there was a no-show in WSR this year, with Sainz cruising. Still, most experts are far from impressed, mainly due to his father’s ridiculous way of supporting his son, always looking for favours, not an even battle.

  12. Max Verstappen is not ready for F1 yet. But he will be when we arrive in Melbourne (?) in 6 months time.
    Remember: Kimi Raikkonen only drove 23 races in a car before entering Formula 1. Verstappen already has about 10 races more to his tally (including the Masters and Florida Winter Series), within the span of 6 months. No doubt he can add another 10 to 15 races in the coming 6 months if necessary. Some Friday-tests, maybe even a FR3.5 race at the end of the year. Verstappen will virtually do 2 seasons of formula-racing in 1 calender year!
    I believe that in 6 months from now we will not question his ability or his experience, only his age will still be a hot item.

  13. The way everyone is talking about Max he seems to be the next Ayrton Senna.

  14. I wonder what this means for the career of Danill Kvyat. At the end of 2016 season he would have had 3 years of F1 experience in STR after which you either move up(Red Bull) or move out. So unless there is an opening in Red Bull, it might mean the end for him.

    If Max beats him in 2015/2016 season Max might move up leaving Danill out of F1. If conversely Kvyat beats Max, then it means Max will have just 1 more season prove himself AND wait for one of the Red Bull Drivers to depart the team.
    The worst scenario of course could be both Riccardio and Vettel retained in Red Bull for the future.
    There are other teams availiable but none of them as of yet have signed a ex-STR driver on a permanent basis.

  15. Max numbers are insane. He adapts fast and drives even faster. However, Red Bull should have send him to either GP2 or WSR. But they probably see more potential in Max than they see in either Sainz Jr. or Lynn and once they’ve decided to dump Vergne and Mercedes was in the hunt for Max, they were in need of jocker so… Toro Rosso seat for 2015.

    Red Bull’s programme is full of youg talent, I wonder if the next trend will be drivers jumping the ship.

  16. I was just wondering if a 17 years old kid no matter how talented he is could make it in F1 when it was a real “men sport” and i’m not only talking about the golden era of F1 but even in the 90’s and 00’s ? The answer for me is that at the maximum he will be eating candy in the box and watching the cars in the pit lane simply because driving F1 cars not perfectly aerodynamically balanced and having a V10 or a V12 underneath revving up to 20,000 RPM demands a minimum physical and mental preparation that a 17 years old kid don’t simply have.
    With the 2014 era, you have cars with less power than before and with restrictions on how to use it (fuel flow), even the loss of downforce is not as significant as expected because as always the teams figured out how to minimize it. The majority of the races are about managing tyres/fuel rather than racing, the exceptions this season has been only when a safety car is deployed or when tyre wear was less than expected or when there is changeable weather conditions. Alonso said after Malaysia that he didn’t use his usual anti-dehydration tricks simply because the race wasn’t exhaustive for him as it was before. Vettel himself who the youngest everything in F1 said that he was terrified the first time he tested an F1.
    In conclusion, i have been always supportive of young talented drivers who deserves to be in F1, maybe Max is a WDC material but in my opinion F1 which is the pinnacle of Motorsport should be the place for hosting these worthy drivers and not “PlayStation boys”.

  17. Perhaps F1 runs the risk of being found out as not being a particular difficult sport for drivers. The perception still lingers from history that F1 is a sport for men, dangerous and only for the very brave.
    But in reality F1 have changed a lot since the old days and soon vill perhaps more resemble a sport like BMX biking
    and be the realms of the cool kids.

  18. Interesting to see that Chris Amon and Daniil Kvyat had the exact same age at their F1 debut: 19 years and 324 days.

    1. Hopefully Kvyat will have a bit more luck than Amon.

  19. What i think this young driver debate does show is how are women going to come into the sport when there are so many young male drivers coming through the ranks. On the age thing, common sense says 18 should be the minimum, but as the old adage goes “if you are good enough you are old enough”

  20. In the past few years there has been a lot of talk about pay drivers, and how many in F1 “bought” their seat. Now a driver is given an opportunity in F1 based on merit (I’m assuming Max Verstappen was not picked because of the sponsorship he brings in), and the topic switches from pay drivers to age. Regardless, we’ll know next year how he does.

  21. What I find grating about Red Bull’s junior program is the way it treats is drivers. They are quick to give drivers hope at the chance of F1 (and on the surface, all these drivers want is to get there, and don’t care about any other motorsport) throw cash at them, make them feel safe, privelaged, perhaps even entitled, then drops them, seemingly without much notice (I’m sure that’s not entirely the case). It is utterly ruthless and completely self-serving. Looking at other junior programs, for instance Nissan’s GT Academy, drivers seem to progress through a more varied program, and their progress is proportional to their suitability. But with no single end goal, Nissan have lots of options for sending their drivers all over the world, to compete in different classes and different series within different genres of racing.

    I don’t know if Max will do any good, and I hope he does (shout out for his karting mum!), but the pressure and hype surrounding these kids (I suddenly feel old at 27) can’t be good for their prospects if they fail.

  22. I think another factor to consider is costs. The new F1 formula is all about the car. Teams know that if they make a very fast car, then the driver doesn’t matter as much.
    So, the teams might prefer a younger (and lighter) driver.

    Wonder what Ferrari thinks. They are one of the only teams who do not experiment much with their driver line up.

    1. A good point, at 17 many people are still growing, it would be very cruel for a 17 year old to be a superstar 1 year only to have outgrown F1 the next. Actually I always wonder how the country with the tallest average population can produce a single potential F1 champion let alone the number of talents currently out there.

  23. I am convinced that Max will succeed in F1 even at 17 years of age. That kid is really special. In interviews he comes across as very mature, his driving skills speak for themselves.
    He may very well be the next Alonso. Yes Alonso.

  24. Wow, he can have a decade long career in F1 and retire with some trophies 3 years before 30 years old ?

    I can see bernie introducing a turnover rule !
    Like American politics as president !
    2 terms your out ?

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