Max Verstappen: A 17 year old F1 driver




Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen created history in the Australian Grand Prix this year by becoming the youngest ever driver to start in a Formula One race at the age of 17 years and 166 days. The funny part is the fact that he is racing high performance Formula One cars at an age which is considered illegal for driving around in public.

Max Verstappen: A 17 year old F1 driver

Max Verstappen: A 17 year old F1 driver

Verstappen owns a FIA super license that allows his to race in Formula One cars. The Belgian-Dutch driver, who doesn’t own a driver’s license yet, he has recently passed the written exam and can drive only with a supervisor with him. There is no age limit set by FIA to acquire the super license; only talent and a deep pocket. The FIA super license is mandatory for racing in a Formula One car which is issued to only those people who have raced and achieved success in junior motorsport categories. The revised cost of obtaining a FIA super license in €10,000 (or $12,000 approx.) which is the basic fee over which one pays €1000 (or $1200 approx.) for every championship point scored.

Racing amongst the best in motorsport so quickly in his career, is actually not surprising for Max as racing, it seems, runs in his family. His father, Jos “The Boss” Verstappen, is a former F1 driver, while his mother is a former go kart driver who won a couple of Belgian championships. Max was born in Belgium, lived in Belgium and travels with a Belgian passport but decided to race with a Dutch racing license because he spent most of the time karting, surrounded by Dutchmen.

Born on 30th September 1997, Max Verstappen, hard to believe, started racing in go kart at the age of 4 ½in Belgium. In 2006, he won the Belgian Minimax championship and the Dutch Minimax championship in 2007. Since then he has moved up the ranks in motorsport rapidly reaching Formula three in 2014. Verstappen debuted in the FIA European Formula 3 championship, driving for Van Amersfoot Racing where he finished third after winning ten races, the most by any driver.

While competing in Formula Three, Verstappen was included in the Red Bull’s Junior Team,last year. The reason Max was able to jump directly to Formula One without having gone through the lengthy and usual route of GP2 and F 3.5 is Dr. Helmut Marko, the de-facto head of the Red Bull Junior program. The major drinks company since its entry into F1, buying Minardi in 2006 has made it their mission to promote young talent through to the big stage. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricardo are also result of this same program.

It is well known that the drivers in Formula One start racing early, as kids in go karts and lower division racing sports, but it takes time before you join the ranks of Alonso, Lewis and Vettel at the pinnacle of racing, which is Formula One. Max has impresses everyone this year despite having raced in just two weekends and already become a teenage sensation in the world of Formula One. He has already equalled his father’s best, sixth place qualifying at Malaysian GP, that too on a wet track. He has also set the record as the youngest driver ever to pick up race points.Toro Rosso’s team boss, Franz Tost, after the stellar performance at Malaysian GP, said that counting on the young drivers is not turning out to be a bad idea after all.

Many senior and veterans in the motorsport industry including major F1 teams are now keeping an eye on how this young lad does in the reaming of the 2015 season.

It seems now that Max’s record will never be broken as the FIA, in January 2015, launched a new F1 super license rule to set the age limit to 18 years from 2016 season onwards. He reminds us of the kind of promise the young generation holds in terms of driver quality and it would not be a surprise if he is elected Rookie of the year.

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Anjan K Merkap

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