The F1 paddock swipe gates through which everyone must pass to get to work at the grands prix make a “bing-bong” noise as you hold your pass up to the sensor. Today, you could see a look of relief from everyone passing through as the machines chimed incessantly while everyone got back to Formula 1 after the break. It was a very nice holiday, but now it’s time to go racing again.
Thursdays of a Grand Prix weekend are always the time for gossip, rumours and interview sessions and today, Scuderia Toro Rosso was very much the centre of attention, with the recent announcement that Max Verstappen will be driving for us alongside Daniil Kvyat next year. It will make our driver line-up the youngest on the grid and the youngest ever in the sport. Already, our Russian, at 19 years of age was considered very young to make the grade in Formula 1, but so far his performances have proved that youth can also come with maturity and a good attitude. As for Max, the Dutch boy will smash the record for the youngest participant ever in the sport as he will be 17 when he makes his debut in Melbourne next year. The previous youngest racer was also one of ours, as Jaime Alguersuari was 19 years and 125 days old on his debut.
Surrounded by the world’s media, our team principal Franz Tost spoke about how the decision was taken. “I have been watching Max for a couple of years now, going back to when he won the European karting championship and then the World Championship,” explained the Austrian. “Dr. Marko and Red Bull had been talking to him for a long time before he was taken on as part of the Red Bull Junior Driver programme. There were other teams interested, but Red Bull won this particular contest. Hopefully we can provide him with a good car and he can do a good job for us. I do not see any risk in taking him on despite his lack of single-seater experience. If you look at his statistics, he won everything in karts, including the European championship and last year, he easily won the World Championship. This year, he came into Formula 3, the most competitive series and, out of 27 races, he won eight times, he finished 17 of them in the top five and in others he retired with mechanical failures. As an example, at the Norisring, where the lap time is about 50 seconds, he was 1.5 seconds faster than anyone in the wet. Another factor is his car control, as he is very smooth and his feeling for the grip level is really outstanding. I believe he is one of the most talented young drivers out there. Yes, he is 16 on paper, but when you look at how he drives, if you talk to him, he is much more mature than that.”