ALMOST LEGAL: Toro Rosso's controversial new driver Max Verstappen, 17, is too young to be driving F1 according to the new superlicence system. Image: AFP / Sandra Koning
PARIS, France - Renault has reportedly hit back at the controversial new system for issuing F1 superlicences as proposed by the international Automobile Federation.
In the light of 17-year-old Max Verstappen's controversial Formula 1 debut in 2015 the governing body is installing a new system for 2016 to ensure new grand prix drivers are older, more experienced, and already in the junior classes
But the system proposed for 2016 is also causing raised eyebrows as it emerges that future champions such as Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen would have been denied their F1 debuts while even the great Michael Schumacher's 2010 return may not have happened.
Also ruled out would have been Paul di Resta's 2011 debut, despite the fact he was the reigning German Touring Cars champion.
Another Touring Cars driver and long-time F1 tester, Gary Paffett whose F1 debut would have been theoretically denied under the 2016 system, told Reuters: "I think the system needs some work."
Renault is reportedly also unhappy with the new system. The automaker and engine supplier, whose premier category, the Formula Renault 3.5 series, will attract fewer superlicence points for its top drivers than GP2, F3, sports cars, Indycar and the currently non-existent F2.
Italiaracing reported: "The French manufacturer promptly responded by sending a letter directly to federation president Jean Todt. Renault will now have a meeting with him, probably around the middle of January."
Meanwhile, Verstappen has cleared the first hurdle towards a normal road driving licence. One of the stipulations for 2016 and beyond will be that any budding F1 driver must at least be 18 and hold a normal licence to drive a car on public roads.
Verstappen, 17, is now half-way towards satisfying one of those criteria.
Verstappen said: "It wasn't as tough as I thought. I studied for about seven hours and because I'm a quick learner it wasn't all that difficult."
He now has to wait until he can sit the practical driving test. "In Belgium you need to be 18 for that," said Verstappen, "so I'm not there yet."
The teen's main focus for now is on March, when he will make his Toro Rosso race debut in Melbourne.