Red Bull Junior Team have signed 16-year-old Max Verstappen as the latest addition to their successful programme.
Verstappen is currently racing in the European Formula Three championship and is second in the standings.
A statement on the Red Bull website said: "We are very pleased to announce that Max Verstappen has accepted our invitation to join the Red Bull Junior Team. This is effective immediately and the 16-year-old Dutchman will continue his FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign at the Nürburgring this weekend as a Red Bull Junior in the Van Amersfoort Racing team and additionally will compete at the Macau Grand Prix in November."
The talented young Dutchman spoke about the announcement on his own official site.
“It goes without saying that I’m very happy and I feel honoured to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team, which has successfully brought and guided many drivers into Formula 1,” said Verstappen.
"I will take this opportunity with both hands in order to develop and maximize my career with Red Bull. I want to thank Dr. Helmut Marko for his involvement in making this partnership possible and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their trust in me.”
It is no surprise to see that Verstappen has been signed up to a Formula One team as quickly as he has done with his ability and potential clear for all to see. It was simply a matter of which team would win the race to acquire the prodigy.
And Red Bull were able to fend off competition from Mercedes to add him to their ranks of extremely quick young men.
What makes Verstappen such a hot prospect is the way in which he has adapted to single seater motorsport from the karting divisions where he had been so exceptional.
For most, it is a tricky transition to grasp the new machinery and power as well as the circuits and data management. But Verstappen has breezed through his first season of cars remarkably well.
But what is so special about this individual's arrival into single seater racing is that he has immediately skipped the stepping stone formulas which drivers use to find their feet in the world of cars.
A few brief tests in various Renault 2.0 engine powered cars displayed he was as quick as other more experienced drivers. And so he has gone straight to competing in the Formula Three European series- where many wouldn't venture until at least three years of racing.
Not only that, but Verstappen is starring in the series. From 18 races he has seven victories and four pole positions, leaving him second in the championship. It is form which has of course turned heads of the bosses of the Formula One teams as they do not want to be missing out on talent such as this.
Future with Red Bull
For Verstappen now the route to Formula One is a whole lot clearer. Red Bull will provide him with the best seat in the most competitive series in order for him to progress under their tuition.
He joins three top quality drivers already supported by Red Bull in Alex Lynn, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz JR. And they are all in competition to make the step to Formula One for a drive in the Toro Rosso car.
Sainz JR, who leads the Renault 3.5 championship currently, is the man in pole position to take Jean-Eric Vergne's seat (should he be left out for 2015). But Verstappen will be looking to leap frog the other competition as soon as possible.
But Verstappen's potential brings into question what age is too early for Formula One? At just 16, but performing years beyond himself, it would not be a surprise to see him fast tracked to the elite formula in the next couple of years.
As we have seen with Daniil Kvyat, who became F1's youngest ever points scorer, these drivers are getting younger and younger. And it can be damaging to their long-term careers if they do not get the correct learning opportunity in the junior world.
Either way it seems that there will be no stopping Verstappen reaching Formula One and it is positive to see the best talent making it and not slipping through the net. Something tells me Max may have an even more successful career than his Father Jos, who achieved two podiums in his time in F1.
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