Verstappen to replace Vergne at Toro Rosso in 2015

Max Verstappen to become youngest F1 debutant

Max Verstappen to become youngest F1 debutant

Toro Rosso has confirmed reports that highly rated Max Verstappen, who recently was signed up for the red bull junior programme, will become Formula 1’s youngest ever race driver next year.

The teenage Dutchman, whose father Jos drove for Toro Rosso’s former guise Minardi just over a decade ago, will replace Jean-Eric Vergne starting in 2015.

The team announced: “Scuderia Toro Rosso is pleased to announce that the newly recruited Red Bull Junior Team member Max Verstappen will drive for the team from the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season, alongside Daniil Kvyat.”

“After becoming karting world champion, 16 year old Max made a smooth transition to the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 European Championship, proving his ability by winning 8 of the 27 races held to date, which puts him in contention to take the title.”

Team boss Franz Tost confirmed, “We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family. 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.”

Max Verstappen with father Jos

Max Verstappen with father Jos

“This year he has already demonstrated how well he can cope under difficult conditions. For example, at the Norisring and Nürburgring, he showed extraordinary determination and the ability to withstand pressure before going on to win.”

“Bearing in mind that Scuderia Toro Rosso was created with the aim of bringing young talent from the Red Bull Junior Team into Formula 1 and to educate them, it will now be up to us to provide Max with a competitive car, which will enable him to have the best possible start to his Formula 1 career.”

Tost thanked Frenchman Vergne, “With this in mind, I would also like to thank Jean-Eric Vergne for all his hard work. He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season.”

“We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in Formula 1.”

This development is also bad news for Carlos Sainz jr, who was previously the favourite to be Russian Daniil Kvyat’s next teammate and further marginalises Antonio Felix de Costa.

“Many people asking which way I’m going to take,” Spaniard Sainz said on Twitter after the Verstappen news broke, “and I say the same as since the start of the year — hard work, perseverance and the [World Series by Renault] title!”

Jean Eric Vergne ousted by Toro Rosso

Jean Eric Vergne ousted by Toro Rosso

Vergne, 24, is yet to comment about the news was first announced late on Monday by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko on Austrian television Servus TV.

Marko said Verstappen, who will be 17 when he makes his record-breaking Formula 1 debut next March, will be with Toro Rosso at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend but only to observe.

“After the Formula 3 season is finished,” Marko said, “his programme will intensify. We will organise a 300 kilometre test for him to obtain the super license.”

It is reported Verstappen might then make his Grand Prix weekend debut late this season, perhaps in Austin, Brazil or Abu Dhabi, during Friday morning practice sessions.

“It was not difficult for us and every top team as well to realise what an extraordinary talent he is. We are very proud that he has joined Red Bull,” said Marko.

“Max is the sort of driver who can start straight away in Formula 1. There are not many who have managed the transition from karting to Formula 3 so well. He does not need more experience in the other junior classes.” (GMM)