Whilst some rumours started circulating once young Max Verstappen was announced with the Red Bull young driver programme a few weeks ago, last night the motorsport world was left stunned as it was announced he would step up to join the Scuderia Toro Rosso team in F1 next year, replacing Jean Eric Vergne.
Verstappen will steal the record for the youngest ever F1 driver at 17 years old next year, with some questioning the wisdom of promoting someone so young into the high pressured environment of F1 at such a young age. This theory carries some weight once you consider his age and the fact next year will only be his second year in car racing.
Whilst some may see it that way, his results so far in racing have shown this teenager has tremendous potential with a racing resume many young driver would envy. He moved into car racing this year as the reigning KZ1 World Champion in Karting before blazing an impressive trail in the highly competitive FIA European F3 Championship, so far taking 8 wins and 13 podiums from 27 races alongside a Masters of F3 victory at Zandvoort also.
Verstappen has stated “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. Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true."
For the likes of Jean Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Carlos Sainz Jr, yesterday's announcement severely hampered their chances of competing in F1 next year as Vergne will be forced to find a race seat outside the Red Bull stable for the first time in a significant portion of time. I personally hope he remains in F1 next year as he has shown himself to belong in F1 during his 3 years with Toro Rosso.
For Da Costa he now appears perilously close to becoming the almost forgotten man of the Red Bull young driver scheme as he races impressively for BMW in the German DTM Championship, although you would be a fool to completely write him off with Paul Di Resta showing a DTM driver can perform well in F1. Finally for Sainz he's done everything he needed to so far this year as he currently leads the Formula Renault 3.5 series, it simply appears he's been passed over this time for Verstappen.
Next year many will be eagerly watching how Verstappen performs in F1, although I hope Vergne, Da Costa and Sainz Jr can all join him on the F1 grid next year. What's your thoughts on the appointment of Max Verstappen at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year.
Image: Red Bull Media House