2015 F1 season: F1i's rookie review


Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Race Day - Budapest, Hungary

Chris Medland: The biggest question mark at the start of the year went on to become one of the standout performers in an exciting debut season. Verstappen was attacking, aggressive and most of all fast, but also made few mistakes for someone of so little experience. Monaco saw highs and his biggest low as he ploughed in to the back of Romain Grosjean, but even small errors didn't stop him finishing fourth in Hungary. The same result in Austin was a more complete performance and his overtaking efforts were a joy to watch. A huge talent.

Eric Silbermann: It’s in his genes of course, what with father Jos and mother Sophie both being pretty handy behind the wheel. But nevertheless, his arrival on the F1 scene has shocked everyone. Even the precocious Kimi Raikkonen had done more single-seater racing before joining Sauber in F1 than Max did. For some reason, the youngest ever F1 driver just has the natural talent to be one of the greats, because he certainly hasn’t had time to learn from experience how to look after his tyres or how to balance the car and let it dance beneath his feet. He drives an F1 car like a kart, which might sound logical but it’s also bloody difficult according to the people who know. There were mistakes, because he encountered situations he’d never faced before and, putting the hype to one side, he’s still a normal human being, he didn't make his team-mate look average, he’s yet to start from pole, yet to stand on the podium, yet to win a race. But I don’t think we’ll have long to wait.

Julien Billiotte: Pretty much everything has already been written and said about Verstappen’s standout rookie Formula One campaign with Toro Rosso. As impressive as these are, his race results and points tally fail to capture the impact the Dutch phenom has had on the sport. He is the kind of talent that makes you watch and like F1, swinging for the fences all the time. Even when he commits a mistake – like in Monaco – or has a scrappy race – think Abu Dhabi – he is entertaining. The hype is real: Verstappen is the most fun driver to have entered the sport since Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

Phillip van Osten: For all the pre-season talk by pundits about the dangers of elevating a 17-year-old to Grand Prix driver status, Max sure put those worries to rest faster than Usain Bolt. Out on the race track, it's all there: outstanding natural ability, flair and aggression, sensitivity to tyre wear, a twist of insubordination which shows character and commitment, and a sparkle of pizzazz. His Monaco mishap was but a stroke of pugnacity gone wrong, but so many others went right. When it comes to Max Verstappen, believe the hype!

Justin Hynes: It’s hard to see past the remarkable young Dutchman when it comes to picking a rookie of the year, so why bother. The statistics speak for themselves – 49 points, two fourth-place finishes, six consecutive races in the top 10 from the final seven rounds. For a kid with one prior season in single seaters behind him, it was a remarkable campaign. There were plenty of highlights. Sixth in qualifying on a track he’d never visited in Malaysia and points in his second race, eyebrow-raising pace early on in Monaco, and of course those two fourth places. The first in Hungary was an exercise in keeping calm while around were losing their head but the one in Austin, on a topsy turvy weekend where skill in all conditions was required in all sessions, was the mark of a driver who was properly finding his comfort zone with car, tyres and environment. Plus, the best of his overtaking moves were simply breathtaking.

F1i scores: 9/10