“You don’t win anything with kids” is an old phrase linked with British football, but it can apply to motorsport. Toro Rosso has begun to resemble a creche, the age at which some of their drivers have started out in Formula One, and Max Verstappen is the youngest yet (and will be, thanks to the FIA’s new rules).
Jos’ boy made everyone stand up and take notice for the right reasons in Shanghai. Forget the fact he’s 17, forget the fact he only started racing cars 12 months ago; the boy has talent by the bucketload. While his slightly more experienced teammate Carlos Sainz was spinning in frustration from distractions from the pitwall, Max was slicing his way past Saubers like they were an afternoon snack.
It’s one thing to be fast in Formula One – it’s past of the job brief after all – but it’s another to be exciting. Can you name any other rookies that have come into the sport in the last decade that actually made you want to watch them race? We can think of just one, and he won the race today.
Now, putting Max Verstappen in the same league as Lewis Hamilton might be a bit strong just three races into his career. That’s a firm admission. But these sorts of drivers are the lifeblood of the sport. Fans need to get behind them, need to come to races to watch them. Martin Brundle labelled Verstappen as a “superstar in the making” and he’s not wrong. And these three initial performances should have yielded points each time, but haven’t thanks to two dodgy Renault power units.
If you weren’t already keeping an eye on Max for his age, you should be now thanks to his talent. Congrats kid, you’re our Top Dog for China!