F1 2015 Driver Review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Scuderia Toro Rosso
Car No.: 33
Races: 19
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 4th (Hungary, USA)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 49
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 12th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

It is difficult to put into words the achievement of Max Verstappen in 2015. After being thrust into the spotlight to make his Formula 1 debut with just one season of single-seater racing under his belt, the Dutchman wasted little time in making an impression.

Verstappen was unfortunate not to score any points on debut in Australia, but he quickly made up for it with his first top ten finish of the year in Malaysia. Further points followed in Austria before he finished fourth in Hungary, marking Toro Rosso’s best finish in a race since Sebastian Vettel left the team in 2008.

Verstappen enjoyed a strong second half of the year that included a run of six straight points finishes, including another fourth place finish in Austin, despite being on the wrong strategy at the end of the race. He comfortably finished 2015 as the top rookie in the drivers’ championship.

And yet it was not his final score that made 2015 so impressive for Verstappen. Instead, it was the fine race craft he showed week in, week out. When thinking about the overtake of the year, Verstappen is the only name that really comes up: his dive down the inside of Marcus Ericsson in China; his ballsy move on Pastor Maldonado in Monaco; his bravery in passing Felipe Nasr around the outside of Blanchimont at Spa; his moves around the outside of Turn 1 at Interlagos. They are all signs of greatness from a driver destined to tear up the record books.

Oh, and he’s only 18. Just in case you missed it.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

It was a shame, I thought, that the FIA reacted to Max Verstappen’s promotion to Formula 1 with the introduction not just of superlicense points, but more crucially the 18-year-old age limit for racing. Frankly, Red Bull wouldn’t have placed him at Toro Rosso if they didn’t think he could get the job done – age be damned – and so it was that the 17-year-old Dutchman did just that in an amazing rookie season.

He was on course to score points in his debut at Australia before mechanical woes – a common story in either Red Bull camp this year. And his misjudged move on Romain Grosjean at Monaco was a true rookie mistake that earned him a five-placed grid penalty.  Other than those two negatives, Verstappen was obviously driving beyond his years for the majority of the rest of the season.

In the six intervening years between when Sebastian Vettel got promoted to Red Bull, Toro Rosso had a grand total of zero top-five finishes between Sebatien Bourdais, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat. Verstappen had two, and he was also a consistent points finisher with eight in the last 10 races. The undisputed rookie-of-the-year could well podium before he turns 20, and perhaps begin his own assault on Vettel’s records.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.