YOUNGEST F1 DRIVER YET: Max Verstappen, at 17 Formula 1's youngest driver yet, looks forward to his first race at the 2015 Australian GP in March. Image: AFP / Tom Gandolfini
LONDON, England - Max Verstappen, about to become the youngest driver on a Formula 1 grid, says he understands the decision to clamp down on the age and inexperience of rookies.
At the 2015 Australian GP on March 15, Verstappen will become the youngest driver to floor the accelerator in F1 at the controversial age of 17-years-old.
In reaction to Verstappen's signing by Toro Rosso, the International Automobile Federation has imposed for 2016 a raft of new 'superlicence' rules that will bar anyone under the age of 18 from entering F1.
'NOT READY FOR F1'
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf quotes Verstappen: "Someone who is 15 or 16 is not ready for F1. He should be karting. I do understand what the federation has done - but I'm glad I have a contract."
Verstappen, whose father is the former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, insists that drivers in his situation should not necessarily be locked outside of the sport.
He said: "Those with talent should not be deprived of their chance in F1. If these rules had been around before some big names, such as Kimi Raikkonen, they would not have made their starts.
"Some are more ready than others, which is also true for me. Since my childhood, F1 was the goal. It is what my father and I were working towards during all those years in karting. I know nothing else."
HESITATED TO SIGN
Verstappen admits that he hesitated when he received the offer from Toro Rosso: “You only really know if you are ready for F1 after you've actually driven an F1 car.
"In that respect, I took a risk because I signed without having driven one metre in a F1 car. However, because Toro Rosso promised to give me experience in practice sessions, I had no argument to say no."