Sauber driver Adrian Sutil has said that the promotion of Dutch youngster Max Verstappen to a full-time seat in Formula 1 is a risky move for Toro Rosso.
Red Bull’s junior team confirmed earlier this week that the FIA F3 driver would be moving up to a full-time seat alongside Daniil Kvyat in 2015, following just one season of racing in single seaters.
The move has sparked a debate over whether or not Verstappen is too young to be racing in F1, given that he will be just 17 years old when he makes his debut. Although Sutil was open to the idea, he thinks that it is still a risky move for Toro Rosso.
“It’s quite a risky move,” he said. “Very surprising for everyone that after just doing half of the season in Formula 3, he has already been announced as a Formula 1 driver, so it might be very early but anyway, we’ll see.
“There are certain drivers who can manage that, like [Kimi] Raikkonen, he had only one season in Formula Renault, and performed incredibly well, so it’s possible that it works again.
“He has some good support with his Dad [ex-F1 driver Jos], for sure he is definitely well supported in every area, but I think you still need a bit of driving before you go into Formula 1.
“Maybe a few more years in car racing. We will see, I wish him luck, we’ll see him soon. I’ve seen him a few times at the Formula 3 track, he’s a good guy, and I’m happy for him. I think he’s a very proud young guy and at home right now.”
Sutil was coy when asked about his own chances of being on the grid with Verstappen in 2015, but hinted that he may be set to stay with Sauber as an option for 2015.
“Yes, I know already since last year where I was going to be next year,” he confirmed. “I can’t really comment more on it.”
Sauber is yet to confirm its drivers for 2015, but with Sutil, teammate Esteban Gutierrez and reserve drivers Sergey Sirotkin, Giedo van der Garde and Simona de Silvestro vying for a seat, there will be an open fight at the Swiss team.
Sutil has endured a difficult season with the C33 car, failing to score any points in the first eleven races. However, in Hungary, the German driver appeared to be closer to the top ten, and could make another step forwards this weekend in Belgium.
As for Verstappen, the jury still appears to be out. He will smash the record for being the youngest driver to race in Formula 1 in Australia next season, but the pressure will be on for him to justify Toro Rosso’s decision to promote him to a full-time seat ahead of the more experienced hats of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Antonio Felix da Costa.