ECSTATIC DRIVER: Teenager Max Verstappen says he is glad he took the step up to F1. Image: AP / Jorge Guerrero.
SEPANG, Malaysia - Max Verstappen says he jumped at the chance to become F1's youngest race driver because he was scared otherwise his career would stall.
The 17-year-old, whose meteoric rise from karts to Formula 1 within a year, has been highly controversial, apparently also received an offer from Mercedes in 2014: the team wanted him as its reserve driver for 2015 while he gained experience in GP2.
Ultimately, Verstappen jumped at the chance to leap immediately into F1 with Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.
"I thought about what happened with Raffaele Marciello," the Hollander admitted to Germany's Auto Bild, referrinng to the 20-year-old Swiss-born Italian who won the European F3 title in 2013 but then faltered in 2014 in GP2, finishing eighth.
"He (Marciello) was the king of F3," said Verstappen, "but suddenly his career stalled in GP2."
Marciello, now the leading member of Ferrari's drivers' academy, has switched GP2 teams for 2015 and is also the reserve driver for Sauber.
He will make his first GP appearance for the Ferrari-powered Swiss team in Malaysia in Friday practice.
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