Are Formula 1 drivers getting too young?


There’s nothing that makes me feel old than famous people who are younger than I am, but sixteen-year-old and newly-signed Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen really takes the cake. Sixteen years old and driving in the most prestigious motor racing league in the world! When I was sixteen, I couldn’t even drive my Mum’s Fiat Punto.

Besides my feelings of jealousy and old age, I really do think that sixteen (or seventeen by the time Max will be racing) is a bit too young to be competing in one of the most dangerous sports in the world. To succeed in F1, skill is of course vital, but experience trumps all other traits hands down and that’s something a teenager simply can’t have. Besides karting, young Max has only one season of Formula 3 under his belt. No wonder that when he took his Toro Rosso car out for a spin in Rotterdam, he managed to crash it into a wall whilst showing off.

While I’m sure Max won’t be doing doughnuts around the Albert Park circuit on his début, him being actually able to handle the car properly is essential for his safety, as well as the safety of the other drivers and the crowd. Formula 1 is an exhilarating sport to watch and constant danger undeniably makes up a big part of this, but the sport hardly needs any more danger.


No, F1 drivers can never be too young.

Age is, and shouldn’t be, a barrier to talent, so if someone is good enough to race then it shouldn’t matter if they are 16 or 60.

Of course Max Verstappen joining Toro Rosso for the upcoming season is an exciting development, following in the footsteps of his father, Jos, who raced in Formula 1 from 1999 to 2003.

Max has broken the record for the youngest driver by roughly two years, taking the mantle from Jaime Alguersuari.

Any notion of Max being an inexperienced driver can be dismissed immediately; the boy has been karting since the age of four, and was racing in Formula 3 last year.

David Coulthard has thrown his backing behind the young driver, suggesting like I have, that age is no issue, but has noted that Verstappen senior’s career was hampered by a sudden debut in Formula 1, so it remains to be seen if Max will suffer the same fate.

Teams usually operate with a lead driver and a junior partner, so to speak, usually because many of the smaller teams cannot afford to have two high profile drivers on the wage books, and because resources are usually stretched. Verstappen will be the understudy to Kvyat, himself a
relative rookie.