Plenty of 18-year-olds have a reputation as terrible drivers, but Max Verstappen isn’t one of them. Verstappen’s victory at the Spanish Grand Prix Sunday made him not just the youngest winner in F1 history, but the youngest by three years (the previous record was held by his Red Bull teammate Sebastien Vettel, who won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix at 21). Verstappen’s showing was impressive enough to even stun F1 legend Niki Lauda, now the chairman of the Mercedes team (which was taken out of the running Sunday when teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided). Lauda and Dr. Helmut Marko, the head of Red Bull’s driver development program, both had nothing but incredible praise for Verstappen:

As the Mercedes team chairman, Lauda was furious in Barcelona after the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg opened the door for Red Bull’s new recruit Max Verstappen to record an historic win.

“I have no answer except to take my cap off,” the F1 legend, who still wears a red cap to cover his scars some 40 years after his 1976 Nurburgring crash, is quoted by the German news agency DPA.

“What we are seeing is a talent of the century,” Lauda added, referring to Verstappen.

For once, Lauda and his compatriot Dr. Marko, the architect of Red Bull’s often controversial young driver program completely agree.

“It is unbelievable what (Verstappen) did,” Marko told the Austrian broadcaster ORF. “The way he kept the lead with someone like [Kimi] Raikkonen harrying him is incredible.”

Of course, Mercedes’ bad fortune played a major role in Verstappen’s win. Here’s the Hamilton-Rosberg collision:

Still, Verstappen had to turn in a great performance of his own to win, and the list of young drivers who have gone before him suggests this may be just the start for him. Four-time series champ Vettel and two-time champ Fernando Alonso were the last two to hold the youngest F1 winner distinction, and Hamilton, Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher are also on the list of extremely young winners. We’ll see if Verstappen can keep this up, but his may be a name to remember.

[Autoweek]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.