Max Verstappen triggered F1 rule change amid debut season heroics

Max Verstappen is incredibly in his eighth season on the Formula 1 grid, despite being just 24 years old.

The Dutchman became the youngster driver ever to take part in a grand prix weekend when he replaced Jean-Eric Vergne for a practice session ahead of the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. The run-out was part of his preparation for his first full season in the car in 2015.

He went on to make his race debut at the Australian Grand Prix aged 17 years and 166 days, becoming the youngest driver to start an F1 race. Carlos Sainz, now of Ferrari, was his teammate. The next youngest drivers to make their F1 debuts were Lance Stroll (18), Lando Norris (19), Jaime Alguersuari (19) and Mike Thackwell (19).

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Predictably, another record followed as he became the youngest driver to score World Championship points when, aged 17 years and 180 days, he finished seventh at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Less than 18 months later, Verstappen was promoted to the main Red Bull team, winning his first race for the Milton Keynes squad after the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had taken each other out on the first lap. Again, he became the youngest race winner in the sport’s history.

The rest, as they say, is history and Verstappen is widely regarded as one of F1’s best ever. He won his maiden F1 title following an epic battle with Lewis Hamilton last year and is on course to retain his crown in 2022.

It’s hard to believe now, given what Verstappen has gone on to achieve, but there was a great deal of controversy when he made his debut back in 2015, with many observers at the time insisting he was far too young for the pinnacle of motorsport.

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As a result, the ‘Verstappen rule’ was created by the FIA, F1’s governing body, which raised the age limit for F1 drivers to 18, meaning his record of being the youngster driver ever will never be beaten, unless there is a change of rules.

There is one record that passed him by though, that of being the youngest ever world champion, an accolade still held by Sebastian Vettel, who won the title at the age of 23 years and 134 days, also in a Red Bull, in 2010.

Verstappen was 24 when he controversially pipped Hamilton to the championship in Abu Dhabi in December last year.


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