Salo says early debut for Verstappen is bad for F1

Max Verstappen to become youngest F1 debutant

Max Verstappen to become youngest F1 debutant

Former Formula 1 driver Mika Salo has added his voice to concerns about the 2015 grand prix race debut of teenager Max Verstappen with Toro Rosso.

Finn Salo, who raced in Formula 1 against the 16-year-old’s father Jos, echoed 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve who has questioned whether Verstappen’s signing by Toro Rosso is good for Formula 1.

“I think it’s really bad for Formula 1,” Salo told MTV3. “In my opinion, a guy that young should not be allowed to drive in Formula 1. It should be the very top category of racing for which drivers train for years. Formula 1 is not a junior series.”

Salo, who raced for Sauber and Toyota and even Ferrari, also said Verstappen risks being thrown into the deep end and having a promising career ruined early.

“What happens when it doesn’t work out after two years? An unemployed Formula 1 driver at the age of 19,” he said.

The freshly Formula 1-retired Mark Webber also weighed into the debate, laughing to Austrian Servus TV that Verstappen’s 2015 debut rules out any hopes of a return to the category for himself.

“I had a wonderful career, but when I see that a 17-year-old is coming into Formula 1, I think it’s not hard to see that it’s over when you’re 38!”

Red Bull, however, is strenuously defending its decision to sign Formula 1’s youngest ever rookie, with Helmut Marko arguing that while other teams “talk about young talents, we make it a reality”.

“I bet 100 euros that in his first race Verstappen will be able to compete with (Daniil) Kvyat,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. (GMM)