Formula 1

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Max Verstappen brings the excitement factor to Formula One

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We may not need another hero, but not since Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton before him has a rookie driver caused such a sensation in Formula 1, producing jaw-dropping manoeuvres to make even seasoned drivers cover their eyes and armchair fans hide behind the sofa.

His dramatic driving has rightly earned the 18-year-old Dutchman the nickname Mad Max even though he was not even born when the original movie was made in 1979.

Most neutral observers of Formula 1 seem to have got the forthcoming season all mapped out with Mercedes on the front row, and Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continuing their own personal vendetta.

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But someone has thrown a spanner into the works and that man is Max Verstappen.

Having achieved two fourth-place finishes last season, he is sure to get a podium sooner rather than later and 2016 may just be his year.

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Celebrating last season’s debut by taking a Formula 1 car on the ski slopes, Verstappen has all the fearlessness of youth and just needs a team with a competitive car in order to claim the world championship crown that is surely his destiny.

"I have compared him to Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna," said Eddie Jordan recently. "I feel at this stage of his career he is that good."

Mercedes wanted to take him a few years ago but may wait until Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of 2018. If so, Verstappen would be an ideal replacement providing the German car is still dominant, but by then the performance pendulum, and the driver’s eyes, may have swung in Ferrari’s direction.

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So for now, he remains with Toro Rosso who secured a supply of last year’s Ferrari engines, and although the team are not entitled to any of the updates the other Ferrari customers will receive on the 2016 power unit, Verstappen is happy with the change.

"For sure normally the new engine should improve a bit but I think we are already very happy with what we have," he said.

"It feels good. Also the relationship together with them is all very positive. We help each other a lot and I'm very happy."

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Verstappen finished last year's championship in 12th with Toro Rosso seventh in the constructor's standings and he claims not to be expecting a major change in the order next season.

But with Mad Max loose on the track anything could happen.

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