At just 16 years of age, Max Verstappen is set to become the youngest ever Formula One driver in 2015. The Dutch driver, who will be 17 when he makes his Formula One debut, will replace Jean-Eric Vergne as Toro Rosso field a team with a combined age of just 37.
The news comes just over a week after it was announced that Verstappen was joining the Red Bull Junior Team. “It goes without saying that I’m very happy and I feel honoured to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team,” he said at the time. “[The team] has successfully brought and guided many drivers into Formula One. I will take this opportunity with both hands in order to develop and maximise my career with Red Bull. I want to thank Dr Helmut Marko for his involvement in making this partnership possible and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their trust in me.”
The young driver, who up until 2013 had been karting, is in his first season of single seaters. He currently lies second in the European Formula 3 championship with eight wins under his belt. From the 26 races he has started, he has eight wins, 13 podiums, five pole positions and five fastest laps. He is 80 points off championship leader Esteban Ocon.
Of the announcement that he is set to make his Formula One debut in 2015, Verstappen said: “Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.”
He was welcomed to the team by Team Boss Franz Tost. “We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family,” he said. “It’s great to see how the Red Bull Junior Programme continues to find talented young drivers and gives them the opportunity to come into Formula 1. We consider Max to be as one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strenght to take on this challenge successfully.”
Max is not the first Verstappen to race in Formula One – he is the son of Jos Verstappen who raced between 1994 and 2003. His best results were two third place finishes – both in 1994 – at the Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix.
The announcement means that Jean-Eric Vergne, who joined Toro Rosso as a test driver in 2011 before being promoted to a race seat in 2012.