Formula One: Max Verstappen too young, says Felipe Massa

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Teenage sensation Max Verstappen is too young for Formula One at just 17, according to Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa.

"Despite all the talent he has ... I think he's coming in too early," the 33-year-old Williams driver told the Brazilian press amid preparations for Sunday's season-opener in Melbourne. "I came into Formula One at 20 - and I felt I lacked experience."

Mass was commenting on the Dutch-Belgian starlet Verstappen, who is on the verge of becoming the youngest racer in history with Toro Rosso. The teenager, son of former driver Jos, served his racing apprenticeship in karting and then won 10 races in European Formula 3 last year to earn himself a shot at the big time.

Massa said on Monday he believed Mercedes still looked to be "well out in front" of the chasing pack but that "based on what we've been showing, (Williams) are right there in the mix to be the second force in Formula One. The car is competitive and we're on the up."