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Daniil Kvyat and the Top Formula 1 Teenagers

Fraser MasefieldContributor IMarch 22, 2014

Daniil Kvyat and the Top Formula 1 Teenagers

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    Kvyat is the youngest driver to score points in F1
    Kvyat is the youngest driver to score points in F1Peter Fox/Getty Images

    In finishing a revised ninth in the Australian Grand Prix, Russian teenager Daniil Kvyat overtook Sebastian Vettel as the youngest driver to score a world championship point.

    Considering those who had gone before him, including the likes of former champions Vettel and Fernando Alonso, it ranks as a significant achievement.

    It is early days for Kvyat in his F1 career but judging his and his predecessors' careers before, during and after they made the step into the big league, where does he rank?

    At the time of writing, there have been eight drivers in the history of the sport to have competed in grands prix in their teens.

    Grading drivers on such criteria as the prestige of junior titles won, quality of opposition, machinery and success in F1, here are the top eight teenagers in history.

8. Esteban Tuero

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Open up a google search for Argentine driver Esteban Tuero and high on the results list will be a website called f1rejects.com. Not the greatest of legacies!

    Like many drivers, the young Tuero began karting at an early age before achieving varying levels of success in junior formulae, winning the 1994 Formula Honda Championship and Italian Formula 2000 International Trophy the following year.

    Despite disappointing in F3000, Mindari gave Tuero his big break in 1998 and he became the third youngest driver to start an F1 race at 19 years, 10 months and 14 days when he started the Australian Grand Prix.

    Alas, his F1 career was short-lived and he was forced to quit racing single-seaters when he injured neck vertebrae when crashing into Tora Takagi in Japan.

    He finished only four of his 16 grands prix entered.

7. Mike Thackwell

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    New Zealander Mike Thackwell’s early results in junior formulae suggested he could be a force to be reckoned with after he finished third in the British Formula Three Championship, five wins putting him comfortably ahead of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Thierry Boutsen.

    His emerging talent led to Thackwell making his grand prix debut for Tyrrell at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix aged 19 years, 5 months and 29 days although he had to give his car up to teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier following an opening lap pile-up.

    Thackwell failed to qualify for the US Grand Prix and would not return to F1 until 1984 during a spell that saw him win the European Formula Two Championship.

    He retired in Canada driving for Skoal Bandit and failed to qualify for the German Grand Prix in a Tyrrell but a year later finished second in the Formula 3000 Championship.

6. Jaime Alguersuari

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    Peter Fox/Getty Images

    Toro Rosso raised no shortage of eyebrows when they announced that Red Bull junior driver Jaime Alguersuari would partner Sebastien Buemi at the team for the 2009 season.

    Alguersuari had won the Italian Formula Renault Winter series in 2006 and British Formula Three Championship in 2008 but it was still a surprise when Toro Rosso called him up midseason to replace the axed Sebastien Bourdais.

    In making his F1 debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the age of 19 years, four months and three days, Alguersuari became the youngest driver ever to start a grand prix.

    But after only three seasons at the team and a best finish of seventh, he and his teammate Buemi were replaced by Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

5. Daniil Kvyat

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    Another youngster to benefit from the Red Bull junior programme, Russia’s Daniil Kvyat became the youngest driver to score points in Formula One when he finished a revised ninth in the Australian Grand Prix.

    Many perhaps unfairly see Kvyat’s promotion to the top table of motorsport as a money-based decision but the Russian was GP3 Champion in 2013 having finished second in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series the year previous.

    Kvyat has made a great start to his F1 career and only comes in at No. 5 on the list because the rest of his story is still to be written.

4. Chris Amon

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    Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    Widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers never to win a grand prix, New Zealander Chris Amon made his debut at the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix at the age of 19 years, 10 months and 20 days.

    It may well have been earlier had Parnell teammate Maurice Trintignant not taken over his car at the Monaco Grand Prix.

    Amon’s F1 career spanned 12 seasons, more than any other teenager in our list. He was often driving in uncompetitive machinery during stints with several teams but he enjoyed notable success with Ferrari in 1967 when he finished fourth in the championship and with March in 1970 when he scored two of his three second place finishes.

    Amon’s last F1 race was the 1976 German Grand Prix but he was also successful in other formulae, winning the 1970 F1 BRDC Invitational Trophy and notably the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Bruce McLaren.

3. Ricardo Rodriguez

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    Mexican Ricardo Rodriguez is one of the rare examples of a racer who first made it on two wheels before switching to four.

    Having won several national motorcycle titles and saloon car races, Rodriguez became the youngest ever driver to stand on the podium at Le Mans when he finished runner-up for Ferrari.

    The same team gave him his break in F1 when he made his debut at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix aged 19 years, six months and 27 days. He qualified a superb second, becoming the youngest driver to start on the front row of the grid and even led the race until a fuel pump failure scuppered his chances of a famous win.

    He started his first full season the following year and managed fourth in Belgium and sixth in Germany from his four race starts.

    But tragedy struck at a non-championship race at his home circuit in Mexico City, when driving a Lotus 24 in the absence of a Ferrari entry, he crashed into the barriers at the Peraltada turn and was killed instantly.

1 = Fernando Alonso

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    Alonso impressed in an inferior Minardi
    Alonso impressed in an inferior MinardiClive Mason/Getty Images

    Fernando Alonso was already a future F1 star in the making long before he made his grand prix debut at the Australian Grand Prix for Minardi at the tender age of 19 years, seven months and three days.

    The Spaniard began karting at the age of three and having dominated his national championships, he went on to win the Euro Open by Nissan Series before finishing fourth in Formula 3000.

    By this time, Minardi had already given Alonso his first taste of F1 but it was in his debut season in 2001 that he showed signs of what was to come, pushing an uncompetitive car to positions it had no right to achieve.

    The rest is history, Alonso becoming the youngest ever world champion when he pipped Michael Schumacher to the 2005 title before repeating the feat a year later.

1 = Sebastian Vettel

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    Vettel won his first GP at Monza for Toro Rosso
    Vettel won his first GP at Monza for Toro RossoClive Mason/Getty Images

    Few could have predicted what was to follow for young German Sebastian Vettel when he made his F1 debut for Toro Rosso at the 2007 US Grand Prix aged 19 years, 11 months and 14 days.

    A product of the Red Bull junior programme, Vettel was second in the 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series and fifth in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series a year later.

    Filling in for the injured Robert Kubica for Sauber at the 2007 US Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest ever driver to score a point on his F1 debut when he finished in eighth position but the best was yet to come.

    In his first full season for Toro Rosso, the young German scored a remarkable debut victory in testing wet conditions in Monza and followed it up with four consecutive solid points finishes to earn him a drive for Red Bull alongside Mark Webber.

    Four consecutive world titles later and Vettel has already written his name into the history books and will go down as one of the greats of the sport.

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