It has been confirmed that Max Verstappen will race for Toro Rosso from 2015, making him the youngest ever driver to grace Formula One. But who is this teenage sensation?
Born in Belgium, but choosing to follow in his father Jos’ Dutch heritage, the 16 year old is set to make F1 history in 2015.
Snapped up by the ever successful Red Bull junior team only last week, Verstappen will replace Jean-Eric Vergne at STR next season as he looks to prove himself in the big time.
It has been a rapid rise to the top for the Dutchman, who currently competes in the Formula Three European Championship.
Beginning karting at the age of seven, Verstappen took just two years to claim his first crown, winning the Belgian Championship in 2006.
A year later he won the Dutch Minimax Championship before a flurry of success including 11 titles saw the ‘superkid’ move up to the World KZ stage in 2013, aged just 15.
After winning the 2013 World KZ Championship, the teenager tested various single seaters and made his competitive debut in the Florida Winter Series, before gaining his breakthrough at Van Amersfoort Racing for this year’s F3 Championship.
Verstappen currently sits second in the Championship with an impressive eight wins so far this season, including six in a row with a clean sweep of victories at both the Spa-Francorchamps and Norisring rounds.
His prominent rise caught the attention of both the Mercedes and Red Bull driver development programmes, with Verstappen opting to go with the latter in a deal announced last week.
It appears likely that this decision may have been influenced by the guarantee of a race seat, which Mercedes seemingly could not offer.
The Dutch racer will partner fellow youngster Daniil Kvyat, who himself is only 20, as Toro Rosso aim to continue Red Bull’s desire of nurturing its up and coming talents. This philosophy has allowed both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo to take similar routes before joining the senior team.
“First of all, I would like to thank Dr Helmut Marko and Red Bull for all their trust and giving me the chance to make my Formula 1 debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” 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.”
Despite his inexperience, Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost has backed the decision and fully believes that Verstappen has what it takes to be successful in F1.
“We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family,” Tost 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 strength to take on this challenge successfully. This year he has already demonstrated how well he can cope under difficult conditions.”
Verstappen turns 17 next month and will break Jamie Alguersuari’s record by almost two years to become the youngest ever driver to start an F1 race when the lights go out at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.