Dutchman Max Verstappen will make his Formula 1 debut in 2015 for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, replacing Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne. He will become the youngest ever F1 driver when the season kicks off in Australia next year, usurping Jaime Alguersuari.
Verstappen, currently only sixteen years old, is competing in his first season of car racing this year in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, racing for Van Amersfoort Racing, and has been one of the stars of the series, winning eight races and sitting second in the championship. He will join Russian Daniil Kvyat at the team.
He is the second Verstappen to reach Formula 1, with his father Jos racing for Benetton, Simtek, Arrows, Stewart and Minardi between 1994 and 2003.
“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 debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” said the younger Verstappen. “Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.
“There are several people that have helped me throughout the years and still support me to this day and I want to sincerely thank them. First of all a big thanks to my father Jos, who has always been by my side, day and night, year after year. Of course I’m very thankful for all my sponsors who’ve believed in my talent and supported me in these financially difficult times. I hope that I can maintain a wonderful collaboration with them as I embark on this exciting new phase in my career. I also want to thank my manager Raymond Vermeulen, for all his efforts in making this agreement possible. Finally, thanks to all the teams in the various karting and single-seater categories for their vital help and support. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“We’ve all worked tremendously hard to reach Formula 1 and I will give my absolute best to be successful in the pinnacle of motorsport. With the return of the Verstappen name to Formula 1, I hope we can relive old memories and I’m hoping to see many fans at all the Grand Prix circuits.”
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost has welcomed Verstappen into his team, and believes they have signed one of the most promising talents in motor sport. He also took some time to give praise to the outgoing Vergne, who will leave the team after three years.
“We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family,” said Tost. “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. 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.
“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.”
Verstappen’s confirmation that he will be a Toro Rosso driver in 2015 leaves question marks over the roll other drivers within the Red Bull Junior team will have. Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr, currently dominating the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this year, looked most likely to be the next driver in line for promotion to Toro Rosso but his future now looks less secure.
Likewise Frenchman Pierre Gasly, also racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, and Briton Alex Lynn, currently leading the GP3 Series championship, will have to wait a while to get an opportunity with Toro Rosso in F1 with Verstappen and Kvyat being so young and with so much promise.