An interview with the youngest ever F1 rookie

Published on 18 August 2014 by Stefan Meens

It is official: Max Verstappen will contest the 2015 Formula 1 season with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Infiniti Red Bull’s satellite team. With the official announcements out of the way, the 16-year-old Dutchman opens up about the hectic last few weeks, his choice for Toro Rosso and his preparation for his F1 debut next year.

“Since I was seven, my main goal was and is to be in Formula 1 so I’m very happy to make my debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso next year”, says Max. “It’s amazing and rather unbelievable where I am at this stage in my career. I didn’t expect things to progress so fast.”

The Verstappens are no strangers to Red Bull with the connections going back to the time that Max dominated karting. “In the last few years, we’ve had several conversations with Red Bull and lately they became more serious. Especially the last few weeks were pretty intense with all the traveling, meetings and races. But as it’s my future, I wanted to be present at most meetings”, reveals the Red Bull Junior.
“However it didn’t affect my performance on track. In fact, I had no trouble sleeping, whereas my dad experienced some sleepless nights regarding my future”, smiles Max.

Red Bull were not the only ones interested in the rapid Dutchman. However, several reasons gave the Austrian company the upper hand in signing the talented youngster. “I have the right feeling with Red Bull and that’s such an important aspect when you have to make a decision of this magnitude. Furthermore, Red Bull is such a professional organisation and with Scuderia Toro Rosso and Infiniti Red Bull Racing, they have two strong teams in Formula 1.”

The two teams offer Max the ability to develop and progress, not just next year, but also long term. “If you put in the results, you could end up in the main team. Just look at the two main Red Bull Racing drivers, they’ve come through the Toro Rosso ranks.”

Max will make his Formula 1 racing debut on the 15th of March at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. As he leaves the pits in his Toro Rosso, the current Van Amersfoort Racing driver will be the youngest rookie in the history of the sport with an age of 17 years and 164 days.

Verstappen junior does not think his youth will hinder him. “I’m convinced I’m able to successfully switch to F1. I’ve always been thrown into the deep end, for example when I switched from karts to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Personally, I think that switch is bigger than from F3 into Formula 1.”

To hit the ground running, Max will enter an intense time of training and preparation. “Red Bull are going to do whatever it takes to prepare me for F1. I’ll spend a lot of time training to gain physical strength as F1 races are long. Especially your neck will be tested due to the high G-forces. I’ll also absolve several tests in cars from categories directly below Formula 1.”

Besides the time in the gym, the newest member of the Red Bull Junior Team will have to familiarise himself with the features and functions of a Formula 1 racer. “I’ll spend a lot of time in the simulator so sitting in an F1 cockpit will become second nature.”

Apart from world class racing and supreme technology, Formula 1 is famous for its huge interests that are seemingly always at stake. Nevertheless, Max is not worried he will be pulled into the political turmoil. “I’m pretty relaxed in general and Red Bull will support me and so will my father, who’s been around Formula 1 for quite a while”, smiles the son of the Netherlands’ most successful F1 driver.

With his first Grand Prix seven months away, Max has a clear target for the 2015 campaign. “I’ve never driven an F1 car but that will quickly change. So my main goal will be to finish as many races as I can and make as few mistakes as possible. But above all, I can’t wait to race in Formula 1”, concludes the youngest ever rookie.