Max Verstappen has been announced as a Toro Rosso driver for 2015, with the 16-year-old replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.
In a surprise move, Verstappen - who is in his first year of racing single seaters after winning last year's KZ World karting championship - has been confirmed in an F1 seat alongside Daniil Kvyat. The son of former Benetton and Tyrrell driver Jos described the news as "a dream come true" ahead of joining the team after completing the European F3 Championship this year.
“First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Helmut Marko and Red Bull for all their trust and giving me the chance to make my Formula debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso," Verstappen said. "Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.”
“There are several people that have helped me throughout the years and still support me to this day and I want to sincerely thank them. First of all a big thanks to my father Jos, who has always been by my side, day and night, year after year. Of course I'm very thankful for all my sponsors who've believed in my talent and supported me in these financially difficult times. I hope that I can maintain a wonderful collaboration with them as I embark on this exciting new phase in my career. I also want to thank my manager Raymond Vermeulen, for all his efforts in making this agreement possible. Finally, thanks to all the teams in the various karting and single-seater categories for their vital help and support. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today.”
“We've all worked tremendously hard to reach Formula 1 and I will give my absolute best to be successful in the pinnacle of motorsport. With the return of the Verstappen name to Formula 1, I hope we can relive old memories and I'm hoping to see many fans at all the Grand Prix circuits.”
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said he is excited by Verstappen's potential while also thanking Vergne, who will leave after three seasons with the team.
“We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family," Tost said. "It's great to see how the Red Bull Junior Programme continues to find talented young drivers and gives them the opportunity to come into Formula 1. We consider Max to be as one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strength to take on this challenge successfully.
"This year he has already demonstrated how well he can cope under difficult conditions. For example, at the Norisring and Nürburgring, he showed extraordinary determination and the ability to withstand pressure before going on to win. Bearing in mind that Scuderia Toro Rosso was created with the aim of bringing young talent from the Red Bull Junior Team into Formula 1 and to educate them, it will now be up to us to provide Max with a competitive car, which will enable him to have the best possible start to his Formula 1 career.
“With this in mind, I would also like to thank Jean-Eric Vergne for all his hard work. He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season. We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in Formula 1.”