With today’s change on superlicenses, Max Verstappen will likely hold youngest start record for good

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Max Verstappen, the 17-year-old who will debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015, will set a record by nearly two years as the youngest driver to have ever started a Grand Prix once he goes from the lights out at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

He’ll eclipse the mark set by another STR driver, Jaime Alguersuari, at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

And Verstappen will likely have the record for good, with today’s update on FIA superlicense requirements as revealed following the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Doha, Qatar.

All drivers for 2016 will need to be at least 18 years old. So unless a younger 17-year-old debuts later in 2015, Verstappen will have his first place in the Formula One record books for a long time.

Here’s the official update from the FIA:

1- Safety criteria

The following changes have been made compared to the current regulations:

  • There is a valid driving licence requirement.
  • There is a minimum age requirement (18yo).
  • There is a verification of knowledge of the F1 Sporting Regulations/ISC rules.

2- Experience criteria

With the following changes compared to the current regulations:

  • There is the 300km in F1 TCC or TPC_ as a minimum requirement.
  • There is a 2 years minimum running in minor Formulas.

3- Performance criteria

With the following changes compared to the current regulations:

  •  There is a point system requirement, based on the driver results in previous Formulas.

Verstappen’s promotion has been the subject of some consternation throughout the year. But there’s also the argument that if you’re ready, you’re ready, regardless of age.

We shall see how Verstappen delivers in his rookie season next year.

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

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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.