Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Suzuka, 2014

Massa sees a ‘Verstappen effect’ among young racing drivers

2018 F1 season

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Felipe Massa believes the example set by Max Verstappen is leading young drivers to move up racing categories too quickly.

Verstappen made his first F1 appearance three days after his 17th birthday (pictured). Between graduating from karts and entering F1 he spent just one season racing single-seater cars.

Massa, who has recently taken over as the president of the CIK-FIA karting body, said the speed with which Verstappen arrived in F1 is leading young drivers and their parents to emulate his career choices.

“We see that so many drivers now the mentality is they need to go as quick as they can to open wheels, which is wrong in the end,” said Massa. “I think you need to go when you’re ready.”

“You need to move the categories when you are 100% ready to be in terms of experience. I think [in] karting we see so many drivers are 14 or 15 years old and already thinking about single-seater.

“I think we need to also show to the drivers, even to the fathers, that you have the right time to do it. Max Verstappen changed a little bit the mentality of so many fathers starting in Formula One at 17 years old.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in Monaco that Verstappen’s recent spate of incidents is due to him “learning in public” because he “arrived in F1 very quickly”. Massa says drivers who choose the correct moment to move up categories will ultimately benefit their careers in the long term.

“You need to prepare yourself [to move] at the right time because then for sure when you move categories you’re going to be a lot more prepared to win straight away,” said Massa. “The possibilities to get as quick as you can into Formula One [come] when you move categories [and] you are competitive straight away.”

Massa believes karting provides the closest comparison to F1 of any junior motor racing category. “With the KZ, the engine with the gearshift, when I drive this I think it’s the most similar sensation – in terms of the feeling of the driver – of reaction, of speed, even G-force and braking compared to Formula One.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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  • 23 comments on “Massa sees a ‘Verstappen effect’ among young racing drivers”

    1. Absolutely agree with Massa, driving on the RD is can be difficult. Driving a formula 1 car at up to 330 kph 100mm from another car is scary. Turning into a corner at 250 + and exiting at 270 or more would be unbelievable if we did not see it with our own eyes. Doing this for 50,60 or 70 laps without running off or hitting another car takes an immense amount of concentration for an extended period (the highest of any sport I believe). A higher level of skill than nearly any other form of motor sport and experience.
      At the moment we have Hamilton, Ricciardo,Vettel and Alonso who possess those qualities in the proportions needed to be champions.

      1. +1000 F1 needs more mature drivers who can respect others on grid and is not a place for youngsters to learn how to race. Lower categories is where learning is and accelarating younger drivers to F1 is not the solution.

      2. @johnrkh

        “Driving a formula 1 car at up to 330 kph 100mm from another car is scary.”
        – So what? Men are at their bravest at a younger age, with their peaking testosterone levels and prime reflex speeds.

        “Turning into a corner at 250 + and exiting at 270 or more would be unbelievable if we did not see it with our own eyes.”
        – Are you making a point here or just sharing with us why you enjoy motorsports? :)

        “Doing this for 50,60 or 70 laps without running off or hitting another car takes an immense amount of concentration for an extended period”
        – Yes, this might be one of those mental abilities that take time to develop as they are part of the maturing process. Although I might be wrong here, we’d have to refer to prefessional studies for confirmation. Maybe patience, which you develop with age, is the true factor here.

        (the highest of any sport I believe).
        – LOL no. Endurance racing (like Le Mans), safari rallyes like Dakar, motorcycle racing demands more concentration. As does normal rallying, although the stages are shorter than a race. And what about stuff like Isle Of Man TT?

        A higher level of skill than nearly any other form of motor sport and experience.
        – (see above)
        I think F1 drivers’ skill depends more on accumulated knowledge (especially car set-up related engineering) than it does on pure car driving skills. This, I believe, is where the largest difference is between a young pup of a driver and a seasoned driver who has not skipped any class.

        1. “Driving a formula 1 car at up to 330 kph 100mm from another car is scary.”
          – So what? You try it.
          Men are at their bravest at a younger age, or most foolish with their peaking testosterone emotionally immature? levels and prime reflex speeds. Means nothing without the skill and patience to take advantage of them.

          “Turning into a corner at 250 + and exiting at 270 or more would be unbelievable if we did not see it with our own eyes.”
          – Are you making a point here or just sharing with us why you enjoy motorsports? :) Don’t you?

          “Doing this for 50,60 or 70 laps without running off or hitting another car takes an immense amount of concentration for an extended period”
          – Yes, this might be one of those mental abilities that take time to develop as they are part of the maturing process. Although I might be wrong here, No go for it your on a roll we’d have to refer to prefessional studies for confirmation. Maybe patience, which you develop with age, is the true factor here. Um maybe experience?

          (the highest of any sport I believe).
          – LOL no. Endurance racing (like Le Mans), safari rallyes like Dakar, motorcycle racing demands more concentration. As does normal rallying, although the stages are shorter than a race. And what about stuff like Isle Of Man TT? I did say any other sport not any other type of motor sport… next time I’ll type slower

          A higher level of skill than nearly any other form of motor sport and experience.
          – (see above)
          I think F1 drivers’ skill depends more on accumulated knowledge (especially car set-up related engineering) Oh dear here comes that word again um um oh yes experience! And are you saying that F1 is not the highest level, it does not have the best drivers?

          Actually I got my information about the levels and duration of concentration from a university study from the early 70s. It was conducted by a Canadian university on F1 drivers of the time. No I no longer have a copy, but if you can produce a study countering what I said I would be more than happy to read it :)

          1. I endorse this rebuttal. Experience ftw, even if Damon doesn’t like calling it that.

    2. 20yr old minimum or make the licence state that three seasons of single seater are needed to qualify for F1.

      1. i think the 3 seasons rule would be good & maybe 21 age limit? Both would need to be fullfilled to enter f1

    3. “You need to move the categories when you are 100% ready to be in terms of experience.”

      This is the key. It’s not just driving experience, it is life experience that they need to have. We all complain about the fact that young drivers are robotic when they first arrive in F1, well what do you expect of a kid who has done nothing but race all his or her life. They are hardly going to be able to wax lyrical about Tolstoy or be able to give reasoned, well thought through responses to pointed questions from grizzled journos.

    4. “We see that so many drivers now the mentality is they need to go as quick as they can to open wheels, which is wrong in the end,” said Massa. “I think you need to go when you’re ready.”

      While Massa may be true, this does not apply to Verstappen at all. He had the best karting career as one could wish and he was certainly not promoted too soon, it was his career in junior formulae that was too (?) short.

      1. I agree with @matthijs that the “Verstappen effect” does not apply to Verstappen…he has been in karts since he could walk, so if Massa believes karting is the closest comparison to F1, he has been exceedingly well trained! This isn’t necessarily a new thing in any case, see world champions Kimi Raikkonen (two seasons in single seaters) and Jenson Button (ditto)

        1. Actually, Verstappen might be the worst example Massa could pick. Because he was so well trained in karting, he was able to jump a few classes in the open wheels classes, just like Button and Raikkonen before him. Actually Massa gave the proof for it himself:

          Massa believes karting provides the closest comparison to F1 of any junior motor racing category.

    5. When I read the headline I assumed this was about reckless blocking and being too arrogant to learn from your mistakes.

    6. None of this matters at all! You either have the talent (which shines through early) just like with Verstappen and or the money (of which you need a truck load) and if you have one or both you will be signed up very quickly and will be very much welcomed into the F1 paddock, and that’s how it goes.

    7. I don’t know. Maybe. Lance Stroll, definitely. But others? Gasly, Ocon, Leclerc, all brought at a relatively normal pace. Vandoorne if anything was brought into slow. And for eighteen months after his promotion to Red Bull Verstappen was one of the best drivers in F1 and belying any notion that age an be an issue. His current rough patch may well be down to age, it may well not me. Experience can be an issue, but it doesn’t have to be.

    8. Do you say no, when F1 nocks at your frontdoor?
      I mean, do the math on chances. Heck! almoast everybody would take the invititation.

      1. There are examples of drivers who did just that – when McLaren insisted that Alain Prost should race for them in the tail end of the 1979 season, he turned it down as he wanted to finish his Formula 3 championships and gain more experience in those series before making the leap up to F1.

        1. The fact that you have to go back for almost 40 years for an example emphasises Duyf’s point: Almost nobody does that.

    9. Its very ironic that F1 changed some rules after some young punk signed at 16 years old, raced just as he turned 17 then same young punk won 3 races before we was 20 (or just after?) :) . Massa has a good point in that others may expect the same entry into F1 but it wont happen- you don’t get too many Max Verstappen’s in this world.

      You can add Ocon, Gasly & Leclerc to that list as well, and when you do its a pretty impressive list of young drivers with a heap of talent. I think Senna started F1 at 24 and by then Max will be into his 7th year in F1, that’s unbelievable!

      I don’t think minimum ages are the answer & perhaps the cars need to be harder to drive that so many teenagers cant do it as easily as they seem to. This seemed to start when every team looked for the new Sebastian.

      1. If you look at the names that started in F1 at a young age for the past view years, I can’t help but think that Massa is just talking nonsense.
        Ocon: Doing a good job, had some clashes with his teammate last year, but his highly experienced teammate was equally guilty of most of those.
        Gasly: doing a nice job, have not seen him doing anything stupid.
        Leclerc: Did some stupid things (own words) in the first few races, but nothing older rookies did not do and performs very well.
        Verstappen: made very few mistakes in the first 3 years of his career. If Verstappen proofs anything, than it is that experience does not help at all.

        So: why are we talking about this, what problem does he want to solve?

    10. While I get FM’s point, isn’t it neither here nor there? Young drivers can think they’re ready and want to rush in all they want, and same with their parents, but it is not they who decide who they will drive for and when. I’m sure many of them could be quickly made to appreciate Max’s unique background and how hard that would be to emulate.

      I always wondered if MS’s terrible bullying behaviour throughout his career would have a damaging effect on up and coming youth at the time, and I think the bottom line is that it may have, for some, but ultimately if that’s not in you to win that way, then it’s just not. Same with FM’s theme. They can want it as much as they want, but the proof will still be in the pudding in the end, and the experts who hire drivers will decide who is ready and who isn’t, based on far more than just speed. Max is also mature beyond his years, even if not always on the track where more patience could be used, at least with the media etc.

    11. Verstappen oozes raw talent almost as much as he reeks of arrogance. His problem is certainly not one of skill… it’s not even about experience anymore. As others have pointed out above, it was his outstanding performances while karting that led to him being courted for the F1 drive so soon (It’s not without precedent: Kimi comes immediately to mind) & this is now his 4th full season. What Max is currently suffering from is an inability to learn from his mistakes. He keeps making basically the same mistakes: pushing too hard when he doesn’t need to, moving around under braking when in a fight & not showing enough respect to his more experienced opponents when racing wheel to wheel. The FIA’s inaction to his repeated infractions has only served to embolden him, IMO, but if his arrogance hinders him from seeing that he keeps risking too much, then he will continue to be taught the hard lesson that any serious attempt at a drivers championship will require him finishing races in the points more than he does in the barriers. Lewis & Vettel were a bit hot under the collar in close quarters when they were green too, but it didn’t take them as long to figure it out & calm down… & they never had a habit of binning it in free practice & early qualifying sessions either (nor was the frequency of their incidents comparable to that of Max). It’s ironic, but pulling back just a tad might serve Verstappen well. When he keeps it clean, he’s spectacular to watch.

    12. Red Bull made a mistake when it brought Verstappen up to their team ,he was simply not ready and as talented as he is he still demonstrates poor decisions and has been held back because of the freedom he has been given. By freedom I mean the license Red Bull has given him to crash his car and bang wheels and even crash into his own teammate .
      The other negative freedom comes from the powers that be ,that is F1 and the FIA, who let Verstappen break sportsmanship rules over and over and even put other drivers at extreme risk ( Raikkonen at SPA ) .
      This ,”it’s OK to drive without ANY regard or respect for the rest of the field ” style which Verstappen has and is permitted to continue with that is the true “bad example” for the young and developing drivers .
      When they see that Verstappen has used it to become a star ( at least to those who are impressed by his “bull in a china shop ” ways ( in other words ,casual fans) they will try to copy it. It will hold back their progress and it will lead to accidents ,possibly serious or even fatal ones .
      If the FIA and F1 really care about the sport and the future drivers they will make sure that safety and respect are constants but, if all they care about is creating excitement and quick cash through danger and the presence of what appears to be a star they will let things go on as they are now .
      I think we all know which path the governing bodies will take .What a shame and waste of so much potential .

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