Verstappen, who does not turn 17 until next month, will become the youngest driver in F1 history when he makes his debut in Australia next March. He will join Daniil Kvyat at the Italian-based outfit, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.
Verstappen has enjoyed an outstanding first year of single-seater racing, winning eight races in the FIA European F3 Championship.
Nevertheless, his rapid ascent to F1 comes as a major surprise. The youngster only signed to the Red Bull junior programme last week and had been expected to move up to GP3 or Formula Renault 3.5 next year. However his father, former F1 racer Jos Verstappen, was known to be keen for his son to graduate to motorsport's top tier as soon as possible.
“Ever since I was seven years old, Formula 1 has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true,” Verstappen said of the announcement.
Carlos Sainz Jr. had been expected to take the Toro Rosso seat. His future, like Vergne's, is now uncertain.