- Toro Rosso
Verstappen and Sainz Jr 'mature beyond their years'
Verstappen, son of ex-F1 driver Jos, will shatter records when he lines up in Melbourne aged just 17 and his early elevation to F1 received huge press attention last year. Alongside Sainz, son of the former rally world champion of the same name, the team will have a combined age of 37 at the start of the season, two years older than paddock veterans Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite their tender years, Key says the feedback given by the two rookies from early simulator work and Toro Rosso's 96km filming day has been very impressive.
"I don't envisage any problems, actually," Key said when asked about the pair's age. "I think the level of maturity we've seen from Max and Carlos has been well beyond what the paper might say with their age on it. They've both grown up in an environment of motor sport so they know it very well and their technical feedback they've given from the simulator runs we've done and the little bit of car running we've done has been absolutely spot on.
"It's not really about age, it's about competence and we've got two very competent guys here. Danny Kvyat was a good example last year - he had about three days of winter testing and he scored points at the first race. That's what can be done if we prepare well and that's out plan. Clearly it's always good to have a bit of continuity from one year to another but it's not often you can afford to do that - I don't envisage it being much of a problem. On the plus side we are getting good feedback already and some very clear directions on what the drivers would like to do but they are also very open to suggestion as well."
Team principal Franz Tost is also convinced the pair will manage the transition to F1 without problems and is irritated age has become a negative talking point.
"When Red Bull decided to buy Minardi, one of the aims was to educate young drivers from the Red Bull driver pool, and this is what we are doing," Tost said. "I do not agree with many of the arguments that our drivers are too young or that you should not bring in such drivers. This argument we heard two years ago with Danii Kvyat, it was the same nonsense, and now he's racing at Red Bull and had a fantastic season last year. To be honest I don't care what [the media] are saying!
"The driver line-up, I know that many of you think they are inexperienced, but they are not inexperienced. They have been racing more than 10 years and that means they have a lot of experience. This is a new driver generation that is coming up now, for me this is the kart-generation, which means they were more often on a kart track and not in the school and they have really learned how to drive a car and how to prep and make it up. Therefore, I am quite convinced we will not have any problems regarding the drivers."