• Toro Rosso

Verstappen set for historic FP1 debut in Suzuka

ESPN Staff
September 29, 2014 « McLaren focusing on Singapore positives | Alonso: Ferrari will beat Williams »
© Sutton Images

Toro Rosso has confirmed Max Verstappen will make his debut F1 appearance in FP1 at the Japanese Grand Prix, which will make him the youngest driver to compete at a race weekend three days after turning 17.

Back to the future

  • Max Verstappen will share the track with two drivers twice his age during FP1 at Suzuka this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, the oldest on the current grid at 34, both turned 17 before Verstappen was born.

Verstappen, whose birthday is September 30, is already set to become F1's youngest full-time driver by nearly two years when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next year. But he will get an early chance behind the wheel in the opening Friday session at Suzuka in place of Jean-Eric Vergne, the man he is replacing in 2015.

"I am very much looking forward to taking part in a Free Practice session at a Grand Prix for the first time," Verstappen said. "It is good preparation for next year, even if it's not something I could have imagined a few months ago. To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true."

It will make Verstappen the youngest driver to ever appear at a grand prix weekend at 17 years and three days, eclipsing the record set by Sebastian Vettel for BMW Sauber in Turkey in 2006 at the age of 19 years and 53 days. Though much is made of his age Verstappen, son of former F1 driver Jos, says he is only focused on gaining experience.

"My dad has raced at Suzuka many times and he told me it's not an easy track to start on. For me it will be a very valuable experience, spending some time in the car and also getting used to working with everyone in the team, to prepare myself for next year. I am not going there to break any records, I just want to gain experience.

"I have spent one day driving this track on the simulator, which helps a bit, but it's no substitute for driving it for real. My first impression is that it's not an easy track and for example it looks hard to get the combination right in the first esses. I have one and a half hours to drive there and I'm looking forward to doing a good job, for myself and for the team."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN Staff Close