Flashback: This is why Verstappen had a sudden promotion to Red Bull in 2016

Flashback: This is why Verstappen had a sudden promotion to Red Bull in 2016

15-05-2021 11:23 Last update: 11:35

On this day exactly five years ago Max Verstappen booked his first Formula 1 victory so we at GPblog are diving into the archives. How did the then 18-year-old Dutchman suddenly end up at Red Bull Racing?

The first step to F1

In his first season in cars in 2014, Verstappen immediately made a name for himself. The Dutchman drove a full season in the European Formula 3 Championship. He did not win the championship that year. He had to settle for third place but did achieve ten race victories. Including six victories in a row. This attracted the attention of Red Bull, who included the Dutchman in their training programme.

The youngest F1 driver ever

That same year, Verstappen stepped into an F1 car for the first time during a race weekend in Japan. His racing debut followed a season later, at the age of 17. In 2015, the Dutchman drove for Toro Rosso, where he managed to beat his teammate Carlos Sainz. In 2016, he would once again drive for Toro Rosso, although things turned out a little differently.

At that time, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were driving for the main Red Bull team. Kvyat did not have a very strong start to the season. In China, he ran in P2 for a long time but dropped back to P3 at the end. One race later it was his home race: one he would like to forget. At the start, Kvyat hit the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel twice. Vettel was out of the race and 'torpedo' Kvyat ended up in fifteenth place.

The golden move of Marko

This was enough for Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to give Verstappen a chance in the main team instead of Kvyat. The Dutchman had to come for an interview with the Austrian. It later became clear that Verstappen would take over Kvyat's spot for the rest of the season, starting at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

It was a gamble by Marko to give the young driver such a big chance, but one that turned out to be golden. Verstappen won for Red Bull in his debut for the main team, becoming the youngest winner ever in Formula 1.

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