Amazing 16-year-old Signs Up For Toro Rosso F1 Team
Look out, Lewis. ‘Jos the Boss’ is coming…
16-year-old Max Verstappen is set to become the fresh-faced addition to the Toro Rosso F1 Team next season and win himself a place in the sporting record books as the youngest F1 driver ever after he was unveiled as the racing team’s new signing.
The staggering news is perhaps even more sensational when you learn that Verstappen is not yet old enough to drive on the roads of his native Holland where he gets about on a bicycle, which incidentally he considers to be “more dangerous than driving a Formula One car”.
Max is the son of former F1 driver, Jos Verstappen, who drove for the likes of Tyrell and Benetton between 1994 and 2003. Verstappen Junior, who will only turn 17 next month and currently races on the Formula Three circuit, said “I am a relaxed guy; I will handle it.”
When he lines up on the grid next year, he will break the record for the youngest driver by almost two years. The record is currently held by a former Toro Rosso driver as well; Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari was 19 and 125 days when he became the youngest F1 driver ever in 2009, although he did not enjoy a long nor illustrious career, having spent just two seasons in the driver’s seat.
Verstappen will tell you that ever since he was seven, becoming an F1 driver was his career goal and he certainly has impressed in his earlier career, when he started in go-karts before getting a seat in the Van Amersfoort Racing F3 car.
He transitioned quickly to the different racing class and his debut season has been impressive, winning six races in a row at one point and eight of the 27 races so far, leaving him second to Frenchman Esteban Ocon in the standings.
Verstappen will graduate to F1 with fewer than 40 single-seater races under his belt, but it is not unheard of for drivers to make the step up to the top level with even less experience. Kimi Raikkonen had only completed 23 single-seater races when he made the transition in 2001 and he went on to take the championship in 2007.
The young gun is not worried by his fast-track progress and believes the hardest transition has already been made. “I think the biggest step I had was karting to F3. I think F3 to F1 will be a smaller step,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m not that worried about it. The cars are really safe. I think it’s more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car.” And he may well have a point there.
Verstappen’s F3 team boss, Frits van Amersfoort, also believes he can succeed. “It is a huge step but I think if anyone can do it, it’s Max,” he said, when asked about the rookie driver. “I’ve never seen a kid that age who is so calm and so relaxed. He has incredible feeling with the car. Time will tell and it’s a huge step, but I think Max is capable of doing it. He will need some guidance and Toro Rosso will give him that for sure.”
By joining Red Bull’s junior team, Verstappen is following the same career path as four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, and his Red Bull teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo.