Headline-grabbing Max Verstappen has had many up in arms since he was announced to drive for Toro Rosso in 2015. Is he too young, won’t the pressure be too much, will he have the focus and discipline needed? These are the questions which have been flying backwards and forwards and while the Dutch fans appear thrilled to have a Dutchman to root for, others are concerned that it’ll be “too much too soon”.
He is a pedigree racer. While Max Verstappen caught the attention of RedBull and Mercedes through his talent and consistent wins in the 2014 GP3 season, he isn’t the first Verstappen to have reached the top formula. His father, Jos Verstappen, used to race in F1 while his mother is a bit of a karting legend in her own right and it’s safe to say that speed is in his blood.
He is the youngest ever F1 driver. And he will keep that record for the foreseeable future as F1 is set to impose a minimum age restriction of 18 years on race licenses from 2016 onwards. There has been much discussion over the past months on whether 17 years is old and mature enough to drive in F1, but the truth is, that only time will tell. For now, it’s safe to say that Verstappen has the talent and the determination to make it in F1, the rest will become apparent over the coming race season as he settles in to his Toro Rosso race seat alongside Carlos Sainz.
He is Belgian. While he holds dual citizenships for both Belgium and The Netherlands, he has lived his whole life in Belgium. His decision to race under his Dutch citizenship is a result of his years spent in motorsports being surrounded by Dutch people and fans and the connection he made with them.
He’s a “Mommy’s Boy”. Well, at least he was at the age of four when he saw another child race in a go-kart and tried to convince his dad to get him one too. Jos Verstappen, a racer himself, was of the opinion that he was too young and should wait until he was six years old. But it takes hard work and determination to become the youngest ever F1 driver and Max went to his mother and, after some serious negotiations, managed to get her to persuade his father to buy him a go-kart.
He was courted by Mercedes. Not only was the young Dutchman being feted by RedBull, he also caught the eye of Mercedes and had a few “friendly conversations” with Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff on the possibility of joining their development programme. In the end, he chose RedBull as they were able to offer him a race seat in the junior team Toro Rosso and because he felt their heart was in helping ned drivers develop whereas Mercedes is currently focusing on winning.