• Toro Rosso

I'm used to making big steps - Verstappen

ESPN Staff
August 22, 2014 « Raikkonen hopes to retain "better feeling" of F14 T | Chilton to race in Belgium after Marussia u-turn »
Max Verstappen with father Jos in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock © Sutton Images

Max Verstappen believes he is well prepared for his step up to Formula One next year after making the move from karting to Formula 3 this year.

Verstappen has been signed to partner Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in 2015 and will be just 17 years old when he makes his F1 debut - a new record for the sport. There are some concerns that he has been rushed through the lower ranks too quickly, but Verstappen does not see F1 as a daunting prospect.

"I've always made big steps in my life," he said. "The biggest step was from karting to F3 because it's not easy in F3 with all those experienced drivers. Once you are in a racing car ... a racing car is a racing car. So I think I'm ready.

"Once you have a feeling with a racing car, even if it is more powerful and a bit wider, I don't think that will change that much."

Kimi Raikkonen is often used as an example of a driver who had limited experience in lower formulae before joining F1 after just one full season in Formula Renault 2.0. He believes it may actually be easier to make the transition now than when he did it in 2001.

"I don't know how much he has done or what he has done. I did one full year, I only had 23 car races so he's probably going to have more than I had," Raikkonen said. "Obviously I was a bit older than him but I did well. Time will tell how he will do but obviously it's more simple now than it was in the past; more people get points.

"I think you can prepare yourself more easily now than in the past so I don't think there will be issues but obviously time will tell. Hopefully he will do well for himself.

"Obviously when you get given an opportunity to go to F1 or F3 - I had the chance to go to Japan F3 - but it's not really hard to choose from those two. You take a chance because it might be the only chance you ever get to get to Formula One. I did pretty well out of it so I don't think it would have made me any more ready for F1 to do another year in some other series. Luckily I had one year in Formula Renault with the wings so that kind of helped a bit."

Jenson Button is another driver who made a quick transition from karting to Formula One after taking up an offer from Sir Frank Williams to drive in 2000. He said he did not feel ready at the time, but had to take the opportunity.

"If someone comes to you and says 'are you ready for Formula One, I'll give you a drive?' what are you going to say? You're not going to say no, are you? There might not be another opportunity. That's what happened to me with Frank Williams, he said to me when I was in the pub with my mates drinking beer and sausages and bacon, he said 'are you ready for Formula One?' but I said no initially.

"My dad said 'I can't believe you just said that, phone him back and lie to him, basically, and tell him you are ready', so I did and got the test drive and then the race drive. You've got to take that opportunity as you don't know if it's going to come again. As a driver, a dad, a manager, you'll always say you're ready to race in F1 and I hope he [Verstappen] is."

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