Toro Rosso names Max Verstappen for 2015 race seat, to become youngest driver in F1 history

3 Comments

Less than a week ago, Max Verstappen was named as a Red Bull Junior Team member.

In 2015, he’ll still be in a junior team… but the junior team at the highest level of motorsport.

The young Dutchman, who’ll only turn 17 in September, will join Scuderia Toro Rosso on the 2015 Formula One grid. His teammate? Relative graybeard Daniil Kvyat, who’s 20, and will be entering his second season on the grid.

Verstappen will become the youngest driver in Formula One history when he takes the grid next season, by more than a year. Jaime Alguersuari was 19 years, 125 days old when he debuted at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing Sebastien Bourdais at 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,” Verstappen said in a release, via Red Bull.

Father Jos Verstappen competed in F1 from 1994 to 2003, with the Benetton, Simtek, Footwork, Arrows, Tyrrell, Stewart and Minardi squads.

The announcement leaves Jean-Eric Vergne a free agent, and he’ll have the final eight Grands Prix of 2014 to prove his worth or join the Toro Rosso ex-F1 alumni club that includes Sebastien Buemi, Alguersuari, Bourdais, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed.

My MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith pondered this possibility of him being promoted last week; meanwhile, Verstappen impressed on his Red Bull Junior debut this weekend.

NBC Sports Group Formula 1 insider Will Buxton raced against Verstappen in the Florida Winter Series this past offseason.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.