When 16-year-old Dutch racer Max Verstappen arrives in Formula One next season, he will be unable to drive on the Netherlands’ public roads without adult supervision. Currently, he’s too young to even take a driving test.
And yet he’ll be lining up alongside veterans such as Fernando Alonso, 33, and Lewis Hamilton, 29, aboard an 800-hp open-wheel missile that sprints from 0-100 mph, then back to 0 again, in less than 5 seconds.
Verstappen, who turns 17 next month and will compete in the 2015 F1 season for the Red Bull-sponsored Toro Rosso team, will break the record for the youngest ever Formula One driver by almost two years – a title held by former Red Bull protégé Jaime Alguersuari, when he raced in 2009 at just 19 years, 125 days.
Red Bull regularly signs young drivers and offers them a chance to showcase their skills in its junior team. Sebastian Vettel was still 19 (just) when he competed in his first Grand Prix for BMW, and was quickly signed by the energy drink giant to race for Toro Rosso. Now, the young German, racing for the squad’s main Red Bull Racing outfit, is a four-time F1 champion – and one of the sport’s greats (by just 27 years of age). But Vettel remains an anomaly; one of the few, like Alonso, who made it work.
Alguersuari was unceremoniously dumped a few years after his young debut, and Verstappen replaces another Red Bull protégé, Jean-Eric Vergne, who has also been dropped.
Verstappen is, undoubtedly, immensely talented, having won both European and World titles in go-karts, and is currently lying second in the European F3 series after winning eight of 27 races.