Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Suzuka, 2014

FIA to prevent more Verstappen-like moves with new F1 age limit

2016 F1 season

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Max Verstappen’s Formula One debut at the age of 17 next year is set to be a one-off after the FIA added new restrictions to the awarding of a super licence from 2016.

Drivers will have to be at least 18 years old to receive a super licence in order to compete in Formula One, and must also have spent two years “running in minor formulas” – two conditions Verstappen will not meet when he starts his first F1 race next year with Toro Rosso.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council set down three separate sets of criteria for the awarding of a superlicence: safety compliance, sufficient experience and attainment of a suitable performance level.

In order to meet safety criteria, in addition to being at least 18 years old drivers must also meet a “valid driving licence requirement” and demonstrate their knowledge of the Formula One Sporting Regulations and the International Sporting Code.

To fulfil the experience requirements drivers must have spent two seasons in junior formulae and covered a minimum of 300 kilometres in a current specification Formula One car or one which complies with recent technical regulations.

The performance criteria will be assessed using “a point system requirement based on the driver results in previous formulas”, details of which have not yet been published.

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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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  • 59 comments on “FIA to prevent more Verstappen-like moves with new F1 age limit”

    1. The glaringly obvious error with this policy is that in the unlikely scenario Verstappen has any issues next year they will have nothing to do with his age but with the fact that he hasn’t competed in anything faster than an F3 car and has no experience of the media attention received by the larger series. A more sensible method would be making a season of GP2 or FR3.5 compulsory for F1 entry, but still, this would have prevented ex-GP3 champion Kvyat from making his immensely impressive F1 debut in 2014. It is still a better policy than denying talented young drivers from entering F1 on the basis of an arbitrary number though…

      1. @countrygent

        A more sensible method would be making a season of GP2 or FR3.5 compulsory for F1 entry

        Leaving aside the unlikeness of the FIA mandating participation in two non-FIA series, I just don’t think this is necessary. You could list any number of drivers who were ready to compete in F1 without racing at that level – take Ayrton Senna, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button for starters. And, as you say, Kvyat.

        Let’s see what the “point system requirement based on the driver results in previous formulas” amounts to before judging it.

        1. Would Jenson Button qualify to enter F1 if these new rules were applied at that time? Which of the current drivers would be affected by these rules if it were applied back then? Which of the current driver entered F1 with the least experience? I assume the answer would be Button, but I haven’t really research it.

          1. Depends if Formula Ford is sufficient.

          2. Unsure, but Kimi Raikkonen wouldn’t.

            1. @craig-o Raikkonen raced for two years in lower categories and he was 18, so he would be allowed to drive. Same for Button.

              I think Verstappen might actually be the only driver ever in F1 who this rule could (have) be(en) applied to.

            2. @mattds Raikkonen only did one full year in lower categories.

            3. @craig-o well that depends on what the definition of a full year is… He drove 11 races in 2011 and 12 in 2012. So that one race makes it full vs not a full season?

            4. He did a winter series in 1999 and a summer series in 2000. That’s two “seasons” and they were allocated to different years.

        2. I don’t think it is necessary either @keithcollantine, but is it not a better method of guaranteeing a standard of driver maturity in F1 than arbitrarily capping age? Ultimately the common sense and intelligence of teams that have invested interests in a well performing young driver is regulation enough.

          1. the money a young untalented driver brings weights more than common sense and intelligence…

      2. @countrygent @keithcollantine The first thing I think of, when I see this two year limit, is that “you must now spend at least £500,000 to join our club, F1 drivers and who let in”!

        Ironically, the cars are getting easier than ever to drive, hence the average Red Bull driver age dropping to 20.5, to steal a march on the rest of the field.

        1. @fastiesty As I have said to Keith, the common sense of teams is regulation enough. Take Marko’s “teenage talents” as an example: despite the fact that Marko was criticised for not taking Da Costa, Kvyat has been amazing, and all the early signs suggest that Verstappen is set to be every bit as much of well judged signing.

          1. @countrygent Agreed, at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for talent (when it comes to age).

          2. @countrygent, The issue I see these regulations necessarily solving is the one of younger teens being smaller and lighter both features highly desirable for F1 jockeys from the designers viewpoint but not really desirable from the FIA or the sports sake for several reasons, not least of which are A; promising drivers being sacked because they have grown 15cm/6inches and now exceed the 150cm/5ft limit to fit in the cockpit, and B; drivers must legally be adults to accept the potential risks of F1, not only from a safety point of view but also from a cheating (Piquet jr) situation.

            1. @hohum

              and B; drivers must legally be adults to accept the potential risks of F1, not only from a safety point of view but also from a cheating (Piquet jr) situation.

              This is not an actual issue. Pretty much the same risks and considerations exist in lower series as well, GP2, FR3.5 and everything below. For example, GP2 cars can achieve 200MPH and next year they’ll have DRS on top of that.

              Unless you’re going to demand that drivers stay in karts until they’re 18, an age restriction for F1 serves no purpose other than some kind of face-saving because the FIA don’t want to make it seem easy.

            2. The Blade Runner (@)
              4th December 2014, 9:26

              @mattds

              I think one of the reasons that the FIA has taken this decision is because, as the “pinnacle of motor sport” (TM), the death or serious injury of a minor would be devastating to the sport’s reputation and call into question their own governance.

              On the days following Jules Bianchi’s crash I commented on this site that Red Bull should take stock and even reconsider the signing of Verstappen. Kids going really, really fast in an F1 car might seem like a great marketing ploy but if it went wrong a la Jules then, putting the tragedy itself to one side, it would be an unmitigated disaster for the brand.

            3. @thebladerunner I get what you’re saying, but then how do you go about feeder series? Sub-18 drivers are OK there because those series have far less visibility towards the general audience?

            4. The Blade Runner (@)
              4th December 2014, 10:00

              @mattds

              Exactly…

            5. @mattsds,@thebladerunner, The potential for monetary gain is much higher in F1 than it is in the lower series and that can lead to pressure to take excessive risk and possibly coercion into cheating, not something anyone wants a 15 year-old to have to deal with.

      3. Well, the F3 part would probably be covered by the 2 years of singleseater experience. And that “point system requirement” might as well.

        That said, it would have probably also barred a Raikkonen from entering, and who knows wheter Vettel would have been granted one. In the end, just as with Kimi at the time and as recently as Abu Dhabi (for Will Stevens who would not otherwise qualify), I am sure that there will be dispensations given out if push comes to shove.

        1. I don’t have any issues with the new regs on this, but nor did I think we were about to see a trend of 15/16 year old sons of multi-billionaires having F1 rides bought for them. Meaning…let’s not forget who Max’s Dad is, which by extension means that Max was practically born on an F1 track, and while I realize that doesn’t mean he has raced the cars, he sure has seen the inner workings of F1 including the media activity, and sure has had a great coach his whole life. I’m guessing that along with his talents has been signs of maturity beyond his years for things like handling the media, likely from having Jos as a Dad, or in fact he would not be in F1 already. I think he is going to be fascinating to watch, assuming those who have launched him into his F1 career so soon know what they are doing in terms of ensuring MV can handle all the aspects of F1, which I believe they do.

    2. A sensible thing to do. Altough I’m sure Max will do a fine job, he’s impressive!
      I do wonder if the points system will exclude lesser pay drivers wich noone likes.

      1. @solidg And probably an outlier, too. But, the FIA will always react to insignificant issues, while missing the bigger picture.

        It probably depends on how high the bar is set.. it could only allow real talents in – but then the poor teams would lose another income stream! Pressing the FIA again, for more action on customer engine cost cuts..

    3. Ok.

      Lets have drivers spend more time in lower categories. That did wonders for Maldonado and Grosjean. Right?

      1. @casjo It isn’t referring to making that amount of time compulsory, it’s there to ensure that nobody gets into Formula One with very little racing experience as Verstappen has and as Kimi Raikkonen did in the past.

    4. I’m more or less in agreement with this, considering how many drivers say they came into F1 too early in hindsight. So long as the ‘junior formulae’ refer to any open wheel car from say F4 upwards plus include other high end downforce cars like LMP/DTM/Indycar, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    5. I think it is a good decision. That’s more the way one should reach the top level of motorsport, at least I prefer it like that.

      1. Me too, if they are real talents they will still be real talents for many years to come.

    6. 300 km isn’t even full race distance. I guess it becomes less important when you consider current spec F1 is barely faster than next lower categories.

      1. But with all the restrictions on testing and drive train longevity how does one get to drive an F1 car for 300km, you can’t even hire one from the back-of-grid teams.

    7. How about making it compulsory for drivers to compete in GP2 before getting a super license. Like a promotion system. F3>GP3>GP2>F1

      1. Certainly not @lradford22. Even apart from thereby disqualifying everyone who goes the WSR 3.5 route, or makes a name for themselves in Japanese Super Formula, it would mean imposing another monopoly on CVC/FOM who own both GP3 and GP2 and already are far to expensive for what they offer.

    8. So Verstappen will forever be Formula One’s youngest driver. Congratulations!

      Good decision though, I think 18 is where we have to draw the line for the future IMHO.

      1. @paeschli Looks that way! Unless perhaps someone signs up his promising ex-karting rival Charles Leclerc for next year…

    9. Surely a better policy would be minimum age of 70? That way, F1 could appeal to its most important demographic – 70-year-old Rolex owners, These fans would be able to identify with the drivers more (being of the same generation) and this would increase their interest in the sport. They are by definition rich, being Rolex owners, so they would pump more money into the sport, thereby allowing races in important parts of the world like Christmas Island, The Turks and Caicos Islands and the disputed border region of Nagorno Karabakh.

      1. Good work sir ;)

      2. Thank you for that!

      3. COTD!!!!

    10. We need to wait on more details on how this will be managed, but in principle it seems to be a good call by the FIA in my opinion. 18 years old is still quite young to deal with the demands of F1 (not only the driving but everything that goes with it)

    11. I don’t think that this rule is good idea.

    12. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
      3rd December 2014, 22:42

      Kimi wouldn’t have met the conditions, then….

    13. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      3rd December 2014, 23:31

      i dont see 18 as an arbitrary number, as many people have already commented. It’s about legal responsibility in case of the young driver being in, or causing, an accident with serious consequences.

      1. There is always legal responsibility. A driver with young age doesn’t change it. It is just handled differently. And it is handled differently in many many race series where drivers below 18 are running. If young drivers are problematic then it is not f1 problem but problem with fr3.5 and gp2.

      2. @omarr-pepper and those concerns only exist for F1, but not for GP2 or FR3.5 or whatever lower series, where sub-18 drivers are no issue?

    14. I think they should add that the driver have finished top 3 in his last full season in which ever series he competed in, as well as 2 full race seasons, it would stop those with rich Dads and poor results getting through.

      1. Which in turn, with the current structure, would mean that the teams who are struggling now will go out of business.

        I don’t like pay drivers either. But their cash keeps teams alive.

    15. @keithcollantine Couldn’t help but chuckle at the headline. Who knew that the FIA had an agenda against the Verstappen family?

      1. FIA to Block Future Verstappens; More Magnussens Will Still be Allowed.

      2. Oh, I knew it…

    16. Strange should performance the rule to enter F1?

      So only champions of ATLEAST two lower formula’s can get into F1 should be prevent a LOT of drivers entering F1. I wonder if F1 ran out of drivers after 10 year :)

      1. FlyingLobster27
        4th December 2014, 11:03

        Impressive performances and maturity in driving is what should lead to a formula proclaiming itself to be “the pinnacle”. It’s not so much age but the fact that Verstappen is joining F1 after one year of racing cars that’s making his nomination a hard pill to swallow for me.
        Certainly restricting access to double junior champions is too much. But I reckon someone who hasn’t won either a race in a second-tier formula (GP2, FR3.5, SuperFormula), or a title in Formula 3 or equivalent series, shouldn’t be in F1. That still makes a lot of people F1 material – Max Chilton fits… but Verstappen still does not, however impressive he has been this year.

      2. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
        4th December 2014, 15:24

        @macleod They needn’t be champions………

        1. I agree with your statement but it should be only the winners of those formula to keep the drivers minimal but the best of the best.

    17. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
      4th December 2014, 15:23

      So what id Jos gets a grandson who want to enter the race when he’s 20? He’s verstappen and future Verstappens are supposed to be blocked……..:p

    18. ColdFly F1 (@)
      4th December 2014, 16:39

      This is probably to help Verstappen – he will remain in the record books (assuming he participates in Melbourne 2015).

    Comments are closed.