With their new look, some existing drivers would have needed to be issued ID cards to be serviced at [UK] Tape or cast a political vote when they first sent out a Formula 1 car rushing around the racetrack – and the very famous car in particular wasn’t big enough to do any of those things.
So who are the youngest drivers to ever race in Formula 1? Let’s run the first ten on the list in reverse order.
12) Sebastian Vettel – 19 years, 11 months, 14 days, 2007 US Grand Prix
At the time of his racing debut, Vettel had already held the record for being the youngest driver to ever race in an F1 weekend, having partnered with BMW Sauber in free practice at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix just 53 days after his 19th birthday.
He has also done the role in six other races prior to the Indianapolis race arc, which came when Robert Kubica was recovering from a crash at the Canadian Grand Prix the previous weekend.
Vettel qualified for seventh and collected one point to finish eighth. The following season he joined Toro Rosso, which he won at Monza at the start of only the twenty-second race. Two years later, he became the world champion.
11) Esteban Ocon – 19 years, 11 months, 11 days, 2016 Belgium Grand Prix
Ocon was relatively three days younger than Vettel when Manor Racing called him up at Spa after he had been a reserve and free practice driver for Renault earlier that season.
Rio Haryanto was brought down by Manor and so came Ocon, who started 17th out of 22nd in Belgium, largely due to grid penalties affecting rivals, and finished 16th.
From there, the Frenchman competed in every Grand Prix until the end of 2018 having joined Force India and exited the 2019 campaign. He has now won a one-time Formula One race and has a contract with Alpine until 2024.
10) Chris Amon – 19 years, 10 months, 20 days, 1963 Belgian Grand Prix
About 43 years before Ocon made his Spa debut, Amon did likewise at the Lola-Climax introduced by Reg Parnell Racing.
The New Zealander qualified 15th out of 20 but only made it to lap 10 when the oil fire ended his race.
He continued his long career in Formula One which included 96 matches until 1976, his best seasons being 1967 with four podiums for Ferrari and 1970 when he was runner-up in both Belgium and France for the month of March.
Amon’s only F1 victories were in the non-championship events at Silverstone and Argentina.
9) Daniil Kvyat – 19 years, 10 months, 18 days, 2014 Australian Grand Prix
A test driver for Toro Rosso in 2013, Kvyat secured a race seat for 2014 after winning the GP3 series and thus climbing two levels at once.
He qualified eighth on his Melbourne debut, two places behind teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, and the Frenchman followed him in the race as he finished P8 and P9.
The three points in his first four Formula 1 races proved to be a springboard for enough to be promoted to the 2015 Red Bull First Team – staying for more than a full season amid the emergence of a certain Dutch youth…
8) Esteban Tuero – 19 years, 10 months, 14 days, 1998 Australian Grand Prix
It would be fair to say that Tuero has not gone on to achieve anything like the success enjoyed by many of the other names on this list – in fact, the Argentine’s F1 career only lasted one season.
Perhaps not surprising given that he only met the criteria for super licensing, Martin Brundle was quoted as saying he had “unparalleled credibility” even though Minardi was keen to accept him.
In 12 of his 16 races, Tuero retired, including his arc in Melbourne where he was knocked out on lap 22 of 58 due to an engine blowout.
Minardi was keen to keep Tuero in 1999, but opted to return to his homeland in Argentina where he continued his career in the automobile industry.
7) Fernando Alonso – 19 years, 7 months, 4 days, 2001 Australian Grand Prix
Three years after Minardi brought Tuero to F1, they have done the same with a driver who will leave an infinitely greater legacy in the sport.
Alonso had finished fourth in the Formula 3000 International and was a test and reserve driver for Minardi in 2000. He started 19th for his Australian debut and finished 12th in a race marred by the death of Marshal Graham Beveridge after a collision between Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve’s cars.
Despite failing to score a point that year, Renault saw enough in Alonso to give him a seat for 2003 after serving as a test driver the previous year. Twenty-one years into his arc, the two-time world champion is still going strong, with an imminent move to Aston Martin.
6) Ricardo Rodriguez – 19 years, 6 months, 27 days, 1961 Italian Grand Prix
Rodriguez was initially a motorcyclist, and already finished second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he was given a guest drive by Ferrari at Monza.
It was a great start too, he started on the front row with a second place finish but unfortunately had to retire from the Grand Prix due to a fuel pump failure after battling for the lead with eventual winner Phil Hill.
The Mexican drove in four races at the 1962 World Championships for Ferrari, but was tragically killed in training for its home event that year, a non-championship race in which he agreed to compete in Lotus for the Rob Walker Racing team.
5) Mike Thackwell – 19 years, 5 months, 29 days, 1980 Canadian Grand Prix
A test driver for Tyrrell and a Formula 2 racer at the time, Thackwell was able to drive a third car for the team at Circuit Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal, along with Jean-Pierre Jarier and Derek Daly.
Starting in the last 24 the New Zealander’s race finished at the first corner – but through no fault of his own. Both of his teammates were involved in a multiple car pileup, and when the restart was triggered, Garrier seized Thakwell’s car.
Only one Formula One start came in Thackwell’s fashion, and also in Canada for Team RAM in 1984 where it struggled with a turbo, but had a good deal of success in the other classes.
4) Lando Norris – 19 years, 4 months, 4 days, 2019 Australian Grand Prix
Aside from 2018, when he finished second to George Russell in Formula 2, Norris has won a title every year since 2012 when he was still karting.
After McLaren split from Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne at the end of 2018, Norris and Carlos Sainz were announced as next drivers. The Briton qualified an excellent eighth for his bracket in Australia – with Sainz out in the first quarter – only to move back to 12th in the race.
Norris’ first grand prix finish in 2020 was even happier, as he finished off his first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Austria, and five others have followed suit so far.
3) Jaime El Guersoari – 19 years, 4 months, 3 days, 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix
Competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and working as a reserve driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso, Alguersuari had a great opportunity with the latter team midway through 2009 following the departure of Sebastien Pordes.
It was a qualifying session in which Felipe Massa suffered a serious injury and so the Spaniard, who was slower in qualifying, started 19th and finished 15th with only teammate Sebastian Buemi behind him.
Despite a vigorous 2011 campaign that featured a seven-point spell in 11 races, Alguersuari was brought down by Toro Rosso and that ended his full-time motorsports career – and has since carved out a new life as a DJ.
2) Lance Stroll – 18 years, 4 months, 26 days, 2017 Australian Grand Prix
Stroll’s background is very well documented, and with great financial support from his family, the young Canadian was quickly traced from F3, in which he won the title, straight to F1.
It was with Williams, and after starting at the back of the grid for his first race in Australia, he came out with brake problem at just over two-thirds.
Eight races into his Formula One career, Stroll finished on the podium in Azerbaijan and the feat has been repeated twice since then, and it looks like his place in his father’s Aston Martin team is now cast iron until either of them decides otherwise.
1) Max Verstappen – 17 years, 5 months, 15 days, 2015 Australian Grand Prix
Youngest driver in F1? It’s almost nothing close, because Verstappen was about a year younger than Stroll when he lined up at Albert Park two years ago.
It was sheer talent that gave the Dutchman his chance, and Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko saw something he immediately knew Son Gus was special.
In qualifying 12 in Melbourne, Verstappen got off to a great start and was on his way to scoring points when his engine blew out on lap 34 of 58.
Those points came next time in Malaysia, and since then Verstappen has been setting more F1 records – to win, finish on the podium, lead the lap, set the fastest lap and achieve one of the major slams. .
However, he was not the youngest world champion in 2021, but a 18 podium finish that year was also a record.
With 11 wins already this season, and possibly 11 in a row, more new milestones could be achieved by the time the checkered flag is waved at the November Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Read more: Where are they now? 12 different champions of the defunct GP2 series