Max Verstappen has competed in the FIA F3 European Championship for the final time ahead of his move up to Formula 1 in 2015.
The 17-year-old has been subject to much debate after Toro Rosso confirmed that he would be replacing Jean-Eric Vergne for next season, with many questioning his age and inexperience. He is set to smash the record for being the youngest driver to start a grand prix in Australia next March.
Verstappen enjoyed his first practice run-out in a 2014 F1 car at the Japanese Grand Prix, and set an impressive time given his inexperience. He is due to return to the STR9 for practice in Austin, having missed the Russian round due to his FIA F3 commitments.
Despite receiving such high praise from the F1 community, Verstappen could only finish the championship in third place behind champion Esteban Ocon and British driver Tom Blomqvist.
At the final round in Germany this weekend, Verstappen lost second place to Blomqvist after Briton finished on the podium in all three races. Verstappen did manage to win the first race, but could only finish fifth in race two and sixth in race three, causing him to lose a position in the championship. However, he was still delighted with his campaign.
“It’s been an incredible season,” Verstappen said. “If anyone had told me I would finish third in the standings with the most victories, I would’ve settled for that.”
Verstappen did win more races than anyone else across the course of the season, claiming ten victories, but a number of retirements and incidents meant that Ocon was able to get the edge on him and eventually emerge as champion. For his efforts, Ocon will receive a test drive with Lotus F1 Team in Valencia next week.
However, it is Verstappen who will be making the step up to F1 next season with Toro Rosso as he looks to prove the naysayers wrong and make an immediate impression in the sport.