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Jacques Villeneuve: Max Verstappen Toro Rosso deal shows F1 flawed

Jacques Villeneuve

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes the superlicence system is flawed when a 17-year-old such as Max Verstappen can race in Formula 1.

Toro Rosso will give Verstappen, currently 16, his grand prix debut in 2015 after just one year of car racing in European Formula 3.

The Dutch driver, who only graduated from karts last winter, will become the youngest ever driver to race in F1.

Villeneuve has labelled the current superlicence as "meaningless", and thinks a driver should gain experience over the years before reaching F1, no matter how talented he may be.

"Getting a superlicence should be meaningful, not just doing three hundred kilometres and it being fine," Villeneuve told AUTOSPORT.

"There is something that is flawed there.

"Basically, it's like getting all the presents without deserving anything. But there is this thing of 'the younger, the better'. What's the next step? A team who will sign someone at 15 just to get the image out of it?

ARCHIVE: What is the point of a superlicence?

"It is the wrong way round. Caesar and Napoleon were good from the beginning but it takes time before you become an emperor. You build it. It does not mean that you are more talented, it doesn't mean that you are faster but you build, it's something you learn and you become a man also.

"He is still a boy so it is very risky. You don't take a 16-year-old, who hasn't even been to university, in the best hospital as a doctor even if he is very good and very intelligent.

"You need to pay dues; you need to deserve it because that is only how you will become a man."


Max Verstappen

The 1997 world champion is convinced Verstappen's arrival will not be good for the sport even if he is successful right away.

"It is the worst thing ever for Formula 1 because it will have two effects," he added. "It will either destroy him [Verstappen] or, even if he is successful right away, then F1 will be meaningless.

"What will F1 be? It will be nothing. It doesn't do any good for anyone.

OPINION: Verstappen can handle F1

"It does a good splash of publicity now for Red Bull but putting a Red Bull helmet on his head for four years probably would have been better."

The Canadian also feels drivers racing against Verstappen will feel less safe than when up against more mature rivals.

"For you, it is fun and you don't really judge the danger the same way," he said of young drivers.

"I remember when I was racing in Formula 3 at 17 and I wasn't thinking the same way as I was later on because you haven't paid your dues."

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