Verstappen to drive for Toro Rosso in 2015 (6th Update)

UPDATE #6 You read it here first. This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that Verstappen will be a regular full-time F1 driver for Toro Rosso in 2015 at the ripe age of 17. Recall also this AR1.com article on May 5th

08/14/14

Max Verstappen

(GMM) Max Verstappen's father has played down reports his son will make his formula one debut as a seventeen-year-old next March.

De Telegraaf newspaper claims the young Dutchman, newly signed up with Red Bull's famous driver development program, will replace Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso in 2015.

Having stepped up from karts to F3 this year, Red Bull gave the young Verstappen a taste of more horse power this week with a private test in a Formula Renault 3.5 car at the Red Bull Ring.

"I had a great time," Max, whose father Jos raced in F1 until 2003, said. "My goal was to drive as much as possible, feel the car and adapt to high speeds, and everything went well."

His father Jos, however, swerved reports his son is heading towards a grand prix race debut with Red Bull's second F1 team Toro Rosso next year.

"We will discuss it with Red Bull and see what is possible within the program," said the former Benetton and Minardi driver.

But De Telegraaf cited a 'Toro Rosso source' as saying Verstappen will be the Faenza outfit's new race driver in 2015.

The newspaper said more will be revealed during the forthcoming Belgian grand prix weekend.

08/05/14

Jos Verstappen

(GMM) Max Verstappen's father has admitted the 16-year-old might be fast-tracked into formula one with a Toro Rosso race seat.

Recently, it was thought the young Dutchman, whose meteoric rise from karting to F3 this year caught the notice of the F1 world, had now signed a development deal with Mercedes.

But that was only the case until last weekend, when Dr Helmut Marko sat down for new talks with Max and his well-known father Jos Verstappen on the sidelines of the latest European F3 race at the Red Bull Ring.

Marko is reportedly offering Max a Toro Rosso race seat for 2015 in exchange for signing up with the Red Bull junior program for a number of years.

42-year-old Jos Verstappen, who last raced in F1 for Minardi in 2003, told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: "He (Marko) is a fan of Max's and so for us that is nice."

Verstappen snr did not want to elaborate on his talks with Marko but acknowledged that a fast-tracked route into formula one might be "just one of the options".

Asked whether debuting in F1 at the tender age of 17 is too young, Verstappen insisted: "Definitely not for Max, he's already quite mature.

"We are in a good situation, but it's also tricky — what is the right decision, and also how often is a train like this going to pass by?"

Asked specifically about the Toro Rosso rumors, Verstappen snr admitted: "I hear it as well, of course, and it could well be that Helmut has this in mind for Max.

"We know at least what Red Bull wants, but we really have not decided," he added.

Max Verstappen

08/04/14 (GMM) Red Bull may not be giving up on hot talent Max Verstappen.

The talented 16-year-old son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, in the midst of a meteoric switch from karting to junior single seaters, recently visited the paddock on the invitation of several formula one teams.

Father and son sat down with the boss of Red Bull's prolific driver development program, Dr Helmut Marko, but reportedly ultimately decided to sign with Mercedes.

Italy's Autosprint said recently that Verstappen Jr hopes to make the move to GP2 for 2015, but in the meantime could shortly make his F1 test debut.

However, Italiaracing reports that the story of Verstappen's dramatic arrival on the formula one radar may have taken a sharp twist at the weekend.

As the Red Bull Ring hosted the latest F3 round, the Verstappens apparently had a "long meeting" with Marko.

Austrian Marko, a high profile member of Red Bull's premier world championship-winning F1 team, then joined the Verstappen camp on the F3 race grid.

The upshot is that "Red Bull is willing to pay the (contract) penalty" to sign the young Dutchman to its program, Italiaracing claims.

And that's not all. Marko has reportedly promised Max, who will be a mere 17 at the time of the 2015 season opener, his F1 race debut in a Toro Rosso next year.

Verstappen would most likely take the seat currently occupied by Jean-Eric Vergne, who has been at Toro Rosso for three years but is being overshadowed in 2014 by the 20-year-old rookie Daniil Kvyat.

It was believed Vergne's seat would be filled for 2015 by another Red Bull-backed hotshoe, Carlos Sainz Jr.

As the 'silly season' shapes up, however, there are other possibilities. Perhaps Verstappen and Sainz will be paired at Toro Rosso, while Russian Kvyat moves to Red Bull Racing.

"Daniil has been sensational so far," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS.

With McLaren pushing hard to sign a top driver like Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull could pair its on-form surprise of the 2014 season, Daniel Ricciardo, with Kvyat.

Horner, however, played down the possibility of a driver change for 2015.

"We have 100 per cent the best driver pairing in formula one," he told Sport Bild.

"Seb is comfortable with us, trusts us. He has won 38 races with us and you don't forget that easily.

"And I don't think Seb actually wants to go somewhere else," Horner insisted.

08/02/14 The Euro F3 series is racing at the Red Bull Ring this weekend and our sources tell us that Red Bull really wants to get Verstappen and would to do so they are guaranteeing him that he will race in F1 in 2015 for Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kvyat. If true, that would mean Antonio Felix Da Costa and Carlos Sainz would be bypassed. Faced with this irresistible offer, we think Verstappen would go with Red Bull over Mercedes because Mercedes would have him do a year or more of apprenticeship in GP2.

Helmut Marko was on the starting grid for race 1 of the FIA F3 this morning alongside Verstappen in the front row.

07/24/14 (GMM) Max Verstappen has turned down an offer from reigning world champions Red Bull as he turns onto the road to formula one.

The talented son of former Benetton and Minardi driver Jos Verstappen visited the Hockenheim paddock last weekend, reportedly at the invitation of 'several' F1 teams.

Young Dutchman Verstappen, 16, is the hot talent of European F3 since moving up from karts, and now the target of top F1 teams including McLaren and Ferrari.

Father and son reportedly sat down with Dr Helmut Marko ahead of the German grand prix, undoubtedly to discuss Verstappen joining Red Bull's famous young driver program.

"When the time is right," Jos told De Telegraaf newspaper, "we will bite the bullet, but not before."

It appears, however, that the Verstappens ultimately said no to Red Bull.

Italy's Autosprint said the Dutch rookie has decided instead to team up with Mercedes, with the relationship to be formalized 'in the coming days'.

The report said Verstappen Jr hopes to make the move to the F1 feeder category GP2 for 2015, "but in the short term there are rumors of a test in a Mercedes F1 car of 2012".

07/23/14 At only sixteen years old, and less than a year since his debut in racing cars, Max Verstappen (son of Jos driver in Formula One in the 90s) was the subject of a little hidden bidding by several teams. At the end Verstappen decided, and soon will formalize his relationship with Mercedes. it is rumored that Red Bull and two others made offers. His brilliant performance in the European Formula 3 series, series that Verstappen races in his first year out of go-karts, have sparked an interest that did not show for a long time in the world of F1.

Verstappen, accompanied by his father Jos, visited the Formula One paddock at Hockenheim last weekend, meeting not just with the representatives of the Mercedes, but others as well. At the moment Max is in second place in the European championship of Formula 3, and it is anticipated that a possible transition next year to the GP2 championship. But in the short term there are rumors of a first test in the Mercedes Formula One car in 2014 using a 2-year old 2012 car.

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