Formula One: Minimum age limit of 18 to be introduced

Formula One will impose a minimum age limit of 18 years old from 2016, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday, in a change that would have kept out Dutch teenager Max Verstappen (above) if introduced for next year. -- PHOTO: AFP
Formula One will impose a minimum age limit of 18 years old from 2016, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday, in a change that would have kept out Dutch teenager Max Verstappen (above) if introduced for next year. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Formula One will impose a minimum age limit of 18 years old from 2016, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday in a change that would have kept out Dutch teenager Max Verstappen if introduced for next year.

Verstappen was signed by the Toro Rosso team while still only 16 and turned 17 last September. He will become the youngest ever Formula One driver when he makes his debut in Australia in March.

His Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz, son of the former world rally champion who shares the same name, is only 20 years old in what will be the youngest team lineup the sport has seen.

The governing International Automobile Federation said after a meeting of its World Motor Sport Council in Doha that new rules would apply to the awarding of the mandatory super licence.

They included the driver having a valid regular driving licence, something Verstappen was still too young to obtain, being over 18 and demonstrating knowledge of the sporting regulations.

Drivers must also have spent at least two years in minor Formulas, a clause that would have denied Finland's 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen his debut with Sauber in 2001, and accrued a number of points from that experience.