Is seventeen to young to be in Formula 1? That’s how old Max Verstappen will be when he climbs into his Scuderia Toro Rosso machine in the 2015 season.

As we mentioned last week, Verstappen joined the Red Bull Junior program and now has been announced as Toro Rosso’s new driver for 2015. This means that Jean-Eric Vergne will be on his way out of the team at the end of this season.

Verstappen, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, has made his mark in the junior series but according the BBC, he made the switch from karts-to-cars less than a year ago. 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,” said Verstappen.

The record was previously held by Toro Rosso driver Jamie Alguersuari in 2009 when he was just 19-years-old. Jaime wasn’t long for the F1 world so let’s hope Max does much better. This means that the road-worn, grisly veteran Daniil Kvyat (at 20-years-old) will be leading a 17-year-old for the team…now that’s a “junior” team.

Is this too young for F1 or has be proven himself enough in the junior series?  BBC says he has the seat time and credentials to get a Superlicense from the FIA. What are your thoughts?

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Tom Firth

    Right so I have mixed feelings, on one hand, I saw Max race on his F3 debut at Silverstone back in April and he was incredible, his talent throughout the season has shown incredibly well. I think he did the odd Formula Renault 2.0 race at the end of the year before, but yes effectively his first season in cars was European F3, which is not an easy series to claim victories in. Never mind with the relative low level of experience Max had.

    Is he ready for F1 ? In terms of talent, yes but personally I can’t help but think he could of done with another year first in 3.5 but hey Red Bull know better than me, if they think he’s ready, then good luck to him.
    The one thing I am excited about with Max’s appointment is that he’s entering F1 at that age on talent, not on the back of a large paycheck, Something that seems almost a novelty these days.

    • Schmorbraten

      Is 17 too young for F1? I’m more worried about whether F1 is too old(-fashioned) for most 17-year-olds … the viewers, that is, not the drivers. But regarding the question of this article: I think it doesn’t matter if a 17-year-old crashes into Massa or a 23-year-old or a 27-year-old driver does – it’s never Massa’s fault anyway.

  • rapierman

    There is a statistical analysis of kids doing everyday driving, and it does indicate that there is a lack of the mature judgment necessary for safe driving. That’s EVERYDAY driving. So, this begs the question: Can you really trust a 17-year-old race driver if you can’t even trust them in ordinary driving?

    • Tom Firth

      Mate, these guys are racing from 5-7 year old in Karting, Racing open wheel cars from as young as 14 in some countries, it isn’t as if your asking a 17 year old to drive a car on the road for the first ever time. Sure they have to develop and that comes with time and experience but there’s a huge difference.

      • Chuck C

        Exactly. It’s not a comparison that can be made. One is absolutely nothing like the other.

    • dude

      Most people in my country are on pharmaceutical meds so it’s not like I trust the older generation either.

      It’s not so much the age, but discipline of the younger drivers receives. There are lots of unruly stuff that goes on in GP2 and GP3, but let’s see how Toro Rosso raise him. They did created two very good drivers for the main team.

      Looks like we’ll see JEV in Formula E.

  • Roy Talbot

    Yes maybe not physically but because of judgement We see some other young new comers make bad racing decisions.

  • Yes, the child has barely made it through puberty.

  • Yes. Period.

    As Roy said, above, these guys may have hot shoes but judgement and experience are not yet in place. Furthermore, as a Dartmouth Univ. study revealed, the human brain is still in a significant stage of development until age 25.
    {“The brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling the brain of someone in their mid-twenties,” The results indicate that significant changes took place in the brains of these individuals. The changes were localized to regions of the brain known to integrate emotion and cognition. Specifically, these are areas that take information from our current body state and apply it for use in navigating the world.}

  • It’s an interesting question. I personally feel teenagers lack the breadth of life experience to rationally and fully exploit their talents, no matter the discipline.

    However, there are many instances in sport and life where exceptional individuals prove an exception to my opinion; in some cases, such as LeBron James of the NBA, the youngster’s enviable talent and conduct downward-shifted established viewpoints on acceptable age-of-entry.

    Regarding Verstappen specifically, Red Bull contracting him due to talent is, as Tom Firth mentioned, a hearty endorsement. Hopefully, his extensive competition history also provides him with perspective and awareness of fellow drivers, and his talent includes mental capacity; all things lacking in one such as Pastor Maldonado.

    I do wonder if one of the Verstappen team’s stipulations for joining the Red Bull team over say, Ferrari or Mclaren is that young Max receive a ’15 race seat…

  • There will be no pushback with regards to his age unless theres an accident that people deem warrantable questioning of the age requirement! There should be some standards set and adhered to!

  • Julian

    You should not only look at someone’s biological age. If you are good enough you are old enough, as the old adage goes.

    We should be asking is Max good enough, and being good is not just about raw talent, it is also about race craft and decision making, skills that are often learned with experience, but not always.

    I would argue that there are drivers on the current grid that probably are not good enough to be there, like Maldonado. Likewise, I am sure that there are incredibly talented kids out there that have a maturity and decision making skills way beyond there years, that may put them ahead of some of the current drivers.

    All this also works at the other end of the scale as drivers get older, if you are good enough you are young enough!

  • r

    Terrible for the credibility for the sport. You need to do a whole lot better to convince me a child at that age is one of the 20 best drivers on the planet. You could try telling me that its really easy driving the car, in fact its just like playstation, any kid could do it with the right surname, maybe you could point out that red bull is only interested in selling caffeinated lolly water to like aged children or maybe tell me the future will be an all teenage series. However it is sold…I would like to point out that I am a grown adult and able to think for myself. One decision I will be making is if I have any interest left.

  • I don’t agree with this decision. Just ask David Stern or Adam Silver about the one/done experience with the NBA for the past few years! By allowing high school and one/done basketball players, the quality of play has been on a downward slide; poor shooting, lack of fundamentals, and ability to handle the physical play. Of course, there have a handful of exceptions Kobe and LeBron for sure. But like the Red Bull driver development program. There are more players who declared and were not drafted or just played in the league for a handful of years. Championships are won with talent, skill, right opportunity, and experience. Even Vettel paid his duties with seat time in the feeder series and test driver with BMW.

    Over the next five years, due to retirements, performance, or contracts, there will be open seats with the higher tier teams; Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, and Mercedes. This should have a domino effect which should bring drivers from down the grid like Hulkenberg or Bianchi to these seats. Hopefully, this will create opportunities for drivers such as Felix da Costa, Nasr, Wickens, Bird, Lynn, and Sainz.