Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, who at 18-years-old is the youngest driver on the Formula one grid, will drive for its senior team Red Bull Racing from the Spanish Grand Prix, team principal Christian Horner announced today.
The Dutch sensation, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, will replace Daniil Kvyat, who was involved in serious talks with his team after repeated crashes this year, both with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Kvyat will join the team “with immediate effect,” the team said in an official release. Kvyat will replace Verstappen at Toro Rosso, driving alongside Carlos Sainz Jr. The 22-year-old Russian scored the second podium of his Formula One career at the Chinese Grand Prix this year, although he was involved in a shunt with the second-placed Sebastian Vettel at that race.
In the release, Horner described Verstappen as an ‘oustanding young talent’ whose ‘performances at Toro Rosso have been impressive so far.” It also mentioned Kvyat, saying he would be “able to continue his development at Toro Rosso in a team he is familiar with.”
Verstappen is the youngest driver in the history of the sport, having made his Formula One debut at the Grand Prix of Australia in 2015, aged only 17. Following serious rule changes by the FIA, he was also the last ever driver to be able to make the jump directly from Formula 3 to Formula One, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone also describing him as a ‘unique talent.’
The young Dutch driver put in a series of strong, consistent performances in the 2015 season despite an unreliable Renault engine. He impressed on debut, eventually forced to retire from that race with engine trouble, but would have a number of good drives over the year, finishing 10 races in the points.
He had a highest 4th- place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2015, finishing the race in 4th behind the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
This year, Verstappen started with a P10 finish at the Australian Grand Prix, finishing in the points in both Bahrain and China, although engine trouble forced him to retire from the Russian Grand Prix.
Over the 2015 season, Verstappen has impressed enthusiasts of the sport with an aggression and skill for overtaking seen in drivers older and more experienced than himself. Among the drivers who have lauded his skill are two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, himself regarded as a game-changer in the sport of Formula One.
Verstappen has raced 23 races so far, scoring a total of 62 points, while the more experienced Kvyat, who himself began his Formula One career with Toro Rosso, at 124 points from 42 races. Kvyat has also had two podium finishes in his career – at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix and at the Chinese Grand Prix this year, but two back-to-back incidents with former Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver Vettel have likely been instrumental in seeing the Russian demoted to the junior team.
More to follow.