F1'S YOUNGEST DRIVER: Many former F1 drivers have expressed concern about Toro Rosso signing 16-year-old Max Verstappen for 2015. Image: AP/ Luca Bruno
LONDON, England - Formula 1's youngest-yet driver Max Verstappen is expecting controversy about his age and experience to continue for a while.
The rookie has turned 17-years-old and raised eyebrows when backer Red Bull announced that, after one year of single-seater racing, he would debut for Toro Rosso in 2015.
He's less than a year out of karts but made history in 2014 when he began to appear in Friday morning practice sessions and smashed a record held by Sebastian Vettel who began practising for BMW in 2009 at 19.
NEW AGE REGULATIONS
The controversy about Verstappen's age and inexperience even elicited a response from the governing International Motorsport Federation, which now intends to set a minimum age of 18 for new drivers from 2016 and a range of other tougher qualifying conditions for a superlicence.
One of them: that the driver must have a normal road licence.
Speaking to Italy's Autosprint, even Verstappen admitted he was surprised by just how quickly he graduated from karts in 2013 to the F1 paddock in 2014.
Verstappen said: "Last winter (in 2013), the plan was to stay for two years in F3 and then decide what to do. Then I started getting very good results immediately and from there many things happened very quickly.
"I definitely didn't expect it to happen as it did. At first I wondered if I had what it takes. I analysed it and realised that I did."
'I HAVEN'T CRASHED'
Nevertheless, he understands the controversy surrounding his meteoric rise and expects it to continue for some time.
Verstappen said: "Honestly, I don't have any problem with what has been said and those sorts of things will probably continue for a while. So far I've had the chance to get on track in F1 for three free practice sessions and I haven't crashed - unlike some other drivers.
"I'm adapting gradually, without rushing, but the lap times I've done have been positive."