Age no barrier for schoolboy driver Verstappen

By AFPEvents - 03 September 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 12:57 PM

Age no barrier for schoolboy driver Verstappen

He may be only 16, but Max Verstappen told the world on Friday that age is just a number -- and he is ready to be Formula One's youngest boy racer of all time.

The Dutchman will not be 17 until September and is still at school.

But he is sure that classrooms and exams will not stop him following in his father's wheel tracks to show his speed with the Toro Rosso team.

Toro Rosso, sister team to Red Bull, signed Verstappen, son of Jos Verstappen, earlier this week and confirmed he will replace Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne as a racer next year.

"I think I'm ready for it," the teenager told reporters at his first news conference on Friday.

"At the end, age is just a number. At the end, what is most important is I think you have to be fast on the track."

He said he had been in contact with Mercedes as well as Red Bull.

"With Mercedes, we had some conversations, just to see what was possible," he said.

"I was already a long time talking to Red Bull, since 2010 really, I mean I had a really good feeling about it."

Remarkably mature for his age, Verstappen junior took all the media attention in his stride and insisted he did not feel any pressure despite despite many in the sport doubting the wisdom of his appointment.

"No not really," he said. "The only thing you can do is your best, more than that you can't do anyway."

Mental strength? His father had plenty of that.

"Yes, I mean I think if you start to need a mind coach that wouldn't be a good thing.

"You need to have a strong head as well, so, yeah, I don't see any problems with that (the pressure of F1)".

Earlier Friday, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve criticised the Red Bull-Toro Rosso recruitment of Verstappen and said that it proved F1's superlicence system is flawed.

The 1997 champion said that it proves the current licence system is "meaningless" and suggested it is "the worst thing ever for Formula One."

Canadian Villeneuve said: "Getting a superlicense should be meaningful, not just doing three hundred kilometres and it being fine.

"There is something that is flawed there. Basically, it's like getting all the presents without deserving anything.

"But there is this thing of 'the younger, the better'. What's the next step? A team who will sign someone at 15 just to get the image out of it?"

In an interview with Autosport.com, he added: "It is the wrong way round. Caesar and Napoleon were good from the beginning but it takes time before you become an emperor.

"You build it. It does not mean that you are more talented, it doesn't mean that you are faster but you build, it's something you learn and you become a man also.

"He is still a boy so it is very risky. You don't take a 16-year-old, who hasn't even been to university, in the best hospital as a doctor even if he is very good and very intelligent.

"You need to pay dues; you need to deserve it because that is only how you will become a man."

"It is the worst thing ever for Formula One because it will have two effects," he added.

"It will either destroy him [Verstappen] or, even if he is successful right away, then F1 will be meaningless.

"What will F1 be? It will be nothing. It doesn't do any good for anyone."

F1 2014: Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix

F1 2014: Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix

Date Sep 19, 2014 - Sep 21, 2014

VenueMarina Bay Street Circuit

Ticket PriceS$68.00 - S$1,288.00
 (excludes booking fee)