- Toro Rosso
Verstappen handed 2015 Toro Rosso drive
Max Verstappen will become the youngest Formula One driver in history after Toro Rosso announced he is to replace Jean-Eric Vergne for the 2015 season.
The 16-year-old, son of former Benetton and Tyrrell driver Jos Verstappen, has been confirmed in an F1 seat alongside Daniil Kyvat. Verstappen will join the team after completing the European F3 Championship this year, having won last year's KZ World karting championship.
"First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Helmut Marko and Red Bull for all their trust and giving me the chance to make my Formula debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso," Verstappen said. "Ever since I was seven years old, Formula One has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.
"There are several people that have helped me throughout the years and still support me to this day and I want to sincerely thank them. First of all a big thanks to my father Jos, who has always been by my side, day and night, year after year.
"Of course I'm very thankful for all my sponsors who've believed in my talent and supported me in these financially difficult times. I hope that I can maintain a wonderful collaboration with them as I embark on this exciting new phase in my career. I also want to thank my manager Raymond Vermeulen, for all his efforts in making this agreement possible.
"Finally, thanks to all the teams in the various karting and single-seater categories for their vital help and support. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. We've all worked tremendously hard to reach Formula 1 and I will give my absolute best to be successful in the pinnacle of motorsport. With the return of the Verstappen name to Formula One, I hope we can relive old memories and I'm hoping to see many fans at all the Grand Prix circuits."
To date, Jaime Alguersuari is the youngest driver to have started a grand prix, having also driven for Toro Rosso when he was aged 19 years and 125 days in 2009. Vergne leaves Toro Rosso after three seasons, with team principal Franz Tost thanking him for his efforts before revealing his excitement over Verstappen's potential.
"We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family," Tost said. "It's great to see how the Red Bull Junior Programme continues to find talented young drivers and gives them the opportunity to come into Formula One. We consider Max to be as one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strength to take on this challenge successfully.
"This year he has already demonstrated how well he can cope under difficult conditions. For example, at the Norisring and Nurburgring, he showed extraordinary determination and the ability to withstand pressure before going on to win. Bearing in mind that Scuderia Toro Rosso was created with the aim of bringing young talent from the Red Bull Junior Team into Formula One and to educate them, it will now be up to us to provide Max with a competitive car, which will enable him to have the best possible start to his Formula One career.
"With this in mind, I would also like to thank Jean-Eric Vergne for all his hard work. He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season. We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in Formula One."