Toro Rosso has announced that Dutch teenage sensation Max Verstappen will drive for the team from the start of the 2015 season, alongside Daniil Kvyat.
After becoming karting world champion, 16-year-old Verstappen made a smooth transition to the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 European Championship, proving his ability by winning 8 of the 27 races held to date, which puts him in contention to take the title.
At the weekend, days after being confirmed as a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, the youngster scored a win at the Nurburgring, a technical failure while leading Race 2 wrecking what looked a sure-fire double. Forced into a change of engine for Race 3 the regulations demand a ten place grid penalty for the following three races so Verstappen started the final race of the weekend from twelfth, ending the day third thereby closing to within 77 points of championship leader Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen's debut race will see the youngster - he turns 17 on September 30 - become the youngest driver in the history of F1. The record is currently held by Jaime Alguersuari - who also made his debut with Toro Rosso - who was 19 years 125 days when started the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
"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 1 debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso," said the Dutch youngster. "Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 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 1, I hope we can relive old memories and I'm hoping to see many fans at all the Grand Prix circuits."
"We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family," added team boss Franz Tost. "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 1. 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 Nürburgring, 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 1 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 1 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 1."