Vergne's F1 career likely over
'Kid' Verstappen the big talking point at Spa
- Vergne targets 2015 after 'cruel' career blow
- Russia will get F1 track license – Whiting
- Rosberg: Every last point will be crucial
- Marko: Verstappen has 'unbelievable speed'
- Verstappen gets F1 outing in Rotterdam
- Williams duo sure of strong Spa showing
'Kid' Verstappen the big talking point at Spa
(GMM) F1 has emerged from its summer slumber, but the big talking point at Spa-Francorchamps will be a 16-year-old 'kid' who doesn't even have a license to drive a road car.
"Because he lives in Belgium, he cannot start lessons until about six months before his 18th birthday," manager Raymond Vermeulen told the German newspaper Bild.
He is referring, of course, to Max Verstappen, the 16-and-a-half year old who has been signed up by Toro Rosso to debut next year and make history as F1's youngest ever driver.
But Verstappen, the son of former F1 driver Jos and female karting sensation Sophie Kumpen, is unfazed, particularly as a top-three finish in the FIA's top F3 category will ensure he receives the most important document — a F1 super license.
"I think the biggest step I had was karting to formula three," he told the BBC this week. "I think F3 to formula one will be a smaller step.
"The cars are really safe. I think it's more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car."
He told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: "The biggest adjustment will be the life around it all — the attention, the full agenda, the travelling. But I'm pretty relaxed.
"I have never had nerves or stage fright, and I won't now."
Verstappen may not be worried, but his age and inexperience may make some of his 2015 rivals nervous.
"What the senior drivers will think about it? Don't ask them, because they won't like it," admitted F1 broadcaster Tony Jardine.
Verstappen said: "These are guys I only know from television, and some of them my dad even raced against.
"I'm thinking about being in the driver's briefing and saying to Fernando Alonso, 'Can you move over, please?' But once I'm in the car I'm not afraid of anyone."
Toro Rosso gave another teenager his F1 debut this year, and Daniil Kvyat is now regarded as a new star of the sport.
"Everybody has the right to an opinion about my age," said Verstappen. "Of course its beneficial if you have more experience, but you only gain that from driving the car.
"At Red Bull and Toro Rosso there will be plenty of people to help me."
John Watson, another broadcaster and a former driver, sides with Verstappen in the new era of cars that are easier to drive and unprecedented safety conditions.
"The age aspect is no longer as compelling as it was in my generation," he told the Mirror. "They can put the kids with talent in simulators and help make the technical side second nature."
And as far as F1 legend Gerhard Berger is concerned, Verstappen is a cut above.
"To switch from karting straight into formula 3 and go straight to the front is something I've never seen," said the Austrian, who is now the FIA's junior series chief.
"Max stands out," Berger told Auto Bild.
Sports physio and performance expert Camiel van Druten told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: "Does it matter whether you're 17 or 19? Max is strong and mature."
But all that doesn't mean the speed of Max's rise to the pinnacle of motor racing hasn't given father Jos – whose first F1 teammate was the great Michael Schumacher – pause for thought.
"The past few weeks has sometimes felt unreal," he admitted. "In the middle of negotiations, I was constantly asking myself — 'Is it the right decision? Is it too early?'.
"Of course he is missing experience, but it was a well thought out decision. The bottom line is that I am the one who knows Max best. People need to understand that he is extremely adaptable and he learns extremely quickly.
"And formula one is different now to what it was twenty years ago, with all the advanced simulators for example."
Just before Red Bull signed on the dotted line, Verstappen was put at the wheel of a much more powerful Formula Renault 3.5 car.
"Straight away he went like hell," said Jos. "He will also know how to drive a formula one car.
"Red Bull is also the benchmark when it comes to building young talent. This is especially true for motor sports."
Verstappen snr said he will travel to all or most of the grands prix next year, but only to be there for Max rather than play an overly active role.
"I will not interfere with the team or the car," Jos promised. "I will just be there for when he needs me.
"I've done everything for my son and now it feels as though I have to let go. I think with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, he is in the right hands."
Vergne targets 2015 after 'cruel' career blow
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne insists he is not giving up on formula one.
Two and a half seasons into his F1 grooming by Red Bull, the energy drink company's famously-harsh driver program – led by the gruff Dr Helmut Marko – has given the 24-year-old Frenchman his notice.
Not long ago, Vergne was the beneficiary of the severity of Marko's decisions when Toro Rosso ousted Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari — the latter just two years after making his F1 debut as a teenager.
"F1 can be cruel," former McLaren driver John Watson told the Mirror this week, "as it was to Vergne and Alguersuari."
It is not yet clear if Red Bull will throw Vergne a Buemi-like lifeline and offer him another F1 role for 2015.
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said only in Monday's statement that he hopes Vergne can show "he still deserves another opportunity in formula one".
Vergne told his more than 140,000 Twitter that he intends to do just that.
"Toro Rosso is a good school. I learnt a lot," he said.
"Now I'm focused on a great end of the season. I'm already working for 2015. Still a lot to show in F1."
Russia will get F1 track license – Whiting
(GMM) Sochi has cleared the final hurdle ahead of Russia's controversial inaugural grand prix this year.
F1 race director Charlie Whiting visited the facility on Tuesday and was quoted by the Xinhua news agency: "The circuit is in very good condition and will be issued with a license."
Chief organizer Sergei Vorobyov confirmed that it had been the "last inspection" that the governing FIA would make ahead of the race in October.
He also said that 30,000 tickets have been sold so far, while Ria Novosti quoted Vorobyov as saying one of the active F1 race drivers will visit Sochi on the day after Sunday's Belgian grand prix.
Rosberg: Every last point will be crucial
Championship leader Nico Rosberg says every point will be 'crucial' as his title fight with his Mercedes team-mate continues at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend.
Rosberg currently leads Lewis Hamilton in the title race by 11 points although the German driver insists that, despite nine victories so far in 2014, Mercedes cannot yet afford to rest on their laurels.
"Although we have had a great start with plenty of good results, that race [in Hungary] showed that the other teams are never too far away," he said.
"In Formula One you just can't afford to give away any advantage and I know that both the team and myself will be working harder than ever to keep improving and maintain our position right to the very end.
"On top of that, the battle with Lewis has been so close all season – and it could well stay that way right up to the final race – so every last point will be crucial in that contest too."
Rosberg has never finished on the podium at Spa-Francorchamps but he is optimistic that he can improves his fortunes at the circuit this weekend.
"Next up, of course, we have Belgium, which is definitely one of the most spectacular races of the year," he said.
"The circuit is just unreal and it's one I think every driver looks forward to. My record there hasn't been as good as at some other circuits in the past, but I'm determined to change that and get the season kicked off again in style!"
Marko: Verstappen has 'unbelievable speed'
Red Bull Motorsport Consultant Helmut Marko has praised new Toro Rosso signing Max Verstappen, describing the Dutch youngster as a 'special' talent with 'unbelievable speed'.
It was confirmed on Monday that Verstappen, who turns 17 next month, will race alongside Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso next season.
Verstappen has been competing in the European Formula Three Championship this year, in his first year of single-seater racing, and is currently in second place in the standings.
"I think he has unbelievable speed," Marko told Red Bull. "For his age he is very mature, and he is a hard worker. He has all the necessary ingredients you need to be absolute champion.
"It was a surprise how quickly he adapted to Formula Three. The moment I thought [he was] something really special was at the Norisring. In mixed conditions – it was more wet than dry – he was per lap two seconds and more faster than anyone else."
Marko played down the risk of promoting Verstappen after just one season of car racing.
"He will be 17 when he has his first race, which is pretty young, but I don't think it is a risk," he said. "He proved in various races that he can use his head. I had quite a few conversations with him and there you see how mature he is.
"Toro Rosso is well known for educating and training young drivers, so he comes into [that] environment, and with all the possibilities which are around the Red Bull family – I think he'll go into the season well prepared. We can't see any risk doing it like that."
Marko added that the early announcement provides Verstappen with ample time to prepare for his Formula 1 debut next year – and challenged the Dutch driver to emulate future team-mate Kvyat.
"We are announcing it in the middle of the season to end all the speculation, to give a really good preparation for next year," he said.
"We were a little bit spoiled by what we have seen from Kvyat, who came into F1 with nearly no testing and was immediately in the points. I think we expect similar things from Max."
Verstappen gets F1 outing in Rotterdam
Max Verstappen will drive a Formula 1 car for the first time when he demonstrates a Toro Rosso around the streets of Rotterdam at the end of the month.
Verstappen, 16, was confirmed alongside Daniil Kvyat at the Faenza-based team for the 2015 season on Monday.
It has now been confirmed that the Dutch youngster will get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time during a demonstration run at VKV City Racing in Rotterdam on August 31st.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen will also be in attendance at the event.
Williams duo sure of strong Spa showing
Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa reckon that the layout of Spa-Francorchamps, which plays host to this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, will suit their FW36 as they seek to continue their strong season.
Williams scored just five points in 2013 but has claimed one pole position, courtesy of Massa in Austria, and three podium finishes, all from Bottas, to sit in fourth place in the Constructors' championship, just seven points behind Ferrari.
Both drivers expect the high-speed nature of Spa-Francorchamps to aid their chances of collecting a strong result.
"The elevation changes and high speed corners make it a real pleasure to drive, especially in an F1 car," said Bottas.
"Because of the long straights and variable weather conditions races can be very interesting for the driver and for the fans. To be competitive in Spa you need a car with efficient aerodynamics, so we expect to be strong and are aiming for a good result."
Massa, who inherited victory at the circuit after Lewis Hamilton's penalty in 2008, echoed Bottas's sentiments.
"The long straights should suit our car and we can kick the second half of the season off with some success," said the Brazilian driver.
"I won here in 2008 and so I know what it takes to win. I have had a really nice summer break but am ready to get back to racing. We have some great tracks to look forward to and I hope we can carry on developing our car like we did the first half of the season, and continue to be near the front."