Fans that have been following Formula One races this year are probably aware of a unique entry in the Japanese Grand Prix. It was during practice for this F1 event that the youngest driver got behind the wheel and drove round the Suzuka Circuit. At only 17 years of age, Max Verstappen made Formula One history by being the youngest competitor to drive a Formula 1 car. At this age, his peers in the UK and the US have legal permission to drive.
Major feat at only 17
Come to think of it, can you remember how your 17th birthday was like? Did you even get chance to drive an ordinary car? Most likely, you did not. Your parents would not even allow you to drive without their direct supervision. Well, Verstappen did the unthinkable. He turned 17 in September this year (2014). The talented youngster had the chance to drive a car that costs millions of dollars to develop and build.
Little experience doesn’t matter
That Verstappen has little experience is not debatable. However, the youngster is unrelenting in his quest to one day conquer the world. The Suzuka practice laps paved the way for the Dutch national to take part in the remaining Grand Prix. He took part in the Brazilian Grand Prix and will be present in Abu Dhabi before curtains fall on one of the greatest motor races in the world.
There are high hopes that Max Verstappen will take part in the Monaco Grand Prix in 2015. If he starts in Monaco, he will also be the youngest driver ever to start a race at the Monte Carlo circuit. The previous record for the youngest F1 driver ever was as set by Sebastian Vettel. In 2006, during the Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel was then the youngest driver even though he was older that Verstappen by two years.
Time will tell
Right now, the young driver may not be in the race for a podium finish. However, it may not be long before he silences his critics. At his age, one cannot get a driver’s license in Netherlands, Verstappen’s native country. Either way, only time will tell. Red Bull is looking forward to having the youngster race together with Jean-Eric Vergne.
Few racing pundits would have predicted that Max Verstappen would get a full seat. Nonetheless, he is here now. It remains to be seen whether he will rise to attain the feat of Ayrton Senna, the late F1 champion who hailed from Brazil. Verstappen’s father, Jos, was also a Formula One driver. Verstappen started off in go-kart racing. Last year, he was crowned the world go-karting champion. He later decided to try racing in the single seater version.
Race for the youngster’s signature
This year, he took part in F3 championship in Europe. He currently ranks second having won six races. Most people expected him to graduate to GP2 or GP3. Both Red Bull and Mercedes were competing to sign him as their junior driver. Eventually, Red Bull won after promising him a race seat in their team. It is now up to Max Verstappen to decide how fast he can take his car.
Prep for Melbourne, Australia
Any critics doubting whether Verstappen is talented enough need to be reminded about two things. First, he is greatly talented. Secondly, one needs recall how Kimi Raikkonen aced it. Renault gave Raikkonen one season before the champ decided to debut for Sauber in 2001. For his Melbourne debut in March 2015, Red Bull plans to give him an old Formula One car and a Renault 3.5 F1 car just to get him ready. He will also take part in race practices in Abu Dhabi, the final race this season.
So far, it is evident that all the F1 team wants from the youngster is his talent. Verstappen has a lot to learn from the current crop of experienced drivers. He has a lot of homework to do. Sadly, for Jean-Eric Vergne, his Formula One career is coming to an end. At only 24 years, losing a seat for the upcoming 2015 season would deal him a major blow. Fans will watch this youngster closely in 2015.