'YES LAD, THAT'S THE STEERING-WHEEL': Bit tough, perhaps, but some think Max Verstappen, 17, is too young to be driving F1. Image: AFP / Sandra Koning
LONDON, England - Jacques Villeneuve says the forthcoming debut of F1's youngest ever race driver Max Verstappen is "an insult".
Just a year out of karts, 17-year-old Max Verstappen has been signed to drive for Red Bull's junior F1 team, Toro Rosso, in 2015.
The outspoken 1997 F1 champion told Italy's Omnicorse: "Should I tell you the truth? I think Max is an insult. Does Red Bull realise it is putting a child in F1? I don't doubt that he is fast, but he has no experience. I arrived in F1 when I was 25, after winning in Indycars.
"Before you fight against the lives of others, you have to learn, and it is not F1's role to teach."
He said the International Automobile Federation's move to impose a minimum age of 18 was not enough. "It should be 21. You should arrive in F1 as a winner with a wealth of experience. F1 is not the place to come to develop as a driver."
Former Williams and Honda driver Villeneuve thinks even Red Bull was not prepared for the controversy that Verstappen's impending debut triggered. "The debut of a 17-year-old is a negative message for F1," he charged, "and I think the impact so far has not been as positive as Red Bull expected."
'F1 NOT EXCITING'
The French-Canadian added that the main problem was that the modern breed of grand prix car had become too easy to drive. "Verstappen arrives, does 10 laps, and immediately looks strong. It seems anybody can drive an F1 car;in my father's day the drivers were considered heroes at the wheel of almost impossible monsters.
"F1 impressed me when I arrived, even though I came from Indycar, but this F1 is not exciting. The cars seem slow."