Red Bull Racing have confirmed that sixteen-year-old Max Verstappen has become the latest member of its Junior Team. He becomes the fourth driver in the scheme, along with Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr, Frenchman Pierre Gasly and Briton Alex Lynn.
In a statement, Red Bull announced that the European Formula 3 Championship driver will join the programme with immediate effect, and will be a Red Bull driver as he continues his fight for the title with Van Amersfoort Racing at this weekend’s rounds at the Nurburgring in Germany. He currently sits second in the championship behind Lotus F1-backed Esteban Ocon, having won seven times in 2014 so far.
“We are very pleased to announce that Max Verstappen has accepted our invitation to join the Red Bull Junior Team,” said the Red Bull statement. “This is effective immediately and the 16-year-old Dutchman will continue his FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign at the Nürburgring this weekend as a Red Bull Junior in the Van Amersfoort Racing team and additionally will compete at the Macau Grand Prix in November.”
The youngster, currently impressing in his first year of car racing against a very strong Formula 3 field, admitted his delight at joining the Red Bull programme, as he believes it will give him the best opportunity to reach Formula 1. He has now tested a Formula Renault 3.5 Series car, and could debut in the series in 2015 once his European Formula 3 campaign comes to an end.
“It goes without saying that I’m very happy and I feel honoured to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team, which has successfully brought and guided many drivers into Formula 1,” said Verstappen. “I will take this opportunity with both hands in order to develop and maximize my career with Red Bull. I want to thank Dr. Helmut Marko for his involvement in making this partnership possible and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their trust in me.”
“The Red Bull Junior Team will give me the opportunity to extensively test in higher single seater categories such as the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Today, I’ve absolved my first FR3.5 test at the Red Bull Ring. The outing, together with the experience and knowledge offered by Red Bull, will help us make a well thought through decision regarding my racing future.”