When it was announced in August of 2014, that Max Verstappen, the young son of former F1 Driver Jos Verstappen would be racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the news took the Formula One World by surprise. His age, when he would make his debut was just unbelievable. Having signed the contract for 2015 before he turned 17, Max would be the holder of the youngest driver in Formula One at 17 years and 166 days, when he made his debut at 2015 Australian Grand Prix, beating the record by almost 2 years.
When this was announced, many debated if it was a wise move to make, given he had not accumulated enough miles to be eligible for the Formula One super license, or had sufficient experience, as he had finished a single year in the FIA Formula 3 European Series (also, he still does not have a regular driver’s license yet). They thought it was a foolhardy move that would cost the sport and make it seem like a joke, while there were others who saw potential in Verstappen. He had participated in three free practice sessions in the remainder of 2014, including Suzuka where he finally got behind the wheels of a Formula One car for the first time.
Making his debut in Australia at the start of the 2015 season, he was unable to finish the race because of his Renault power unit but scored his first points in Malaysia, becoming the youngest driver to score points in the sport. Overall, except for the incident at Monaco, most of his retirements this season are down to the power unit, not to his ability.
So far, he has proven his critics wrong. 30 points so far this season is amazing (given that, since the new points system was introduced in 2010, no Torro Rosso driver has crossed 30 points in a season). He has a maturity that extends beyond his age, and he is the aggressive raw talent that people love to see, willing to battle it out with others and move up the field. He finished an impressive fourth in Hungary, but by far his best outing was Singapore. Having lost power at the start, his car was restarted from the pits and he moved, from a lap down to finish 8th. Yes, the safety car was deployed as it always has been in Singapore, but to move up the field from last and into the points is no mean feat.
Although, people might criticize that he disobeyed team orders by refusing to let his teammate pass him during the Singapore Grand Prix, who had fresher tyres as the team hoped to pass Sergio Perez (who was 7th at the time). In a way, he stood his ground and anyways, a teammate who had fresher tyres could still not pass him. That aggressive mentality is what drivers really need. Yes, we have seen team-mate issues between Webber-Vettel, Rosberg-Hamilton in the recent past, but it’s the sort of aggressiveness that separates World Champions from the winners.
Starting 17th in Japan after penalties and a loss of power in his engine, Verstappen once again will be able to showcase his raw pace and overtaking skills. It won’t be difficult for him to once again make it into the points.
It might be a couple more years for him at Toro Rosso as he improves on his driving skills but it’s difficult to not see him move to the larger teams in the sport. Without a doubt, this kid, Max Verstappen is a future World Champion.