Verstappen confirmed for practice debut on Friday

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, who turns 17 tomorrow, will have his first run in an F1 car in an official practice session at Suzuka on Friday.

Verstappen, who has been granted a superlicence by the FIA, will drive Jean-Eric Vergne’s car in the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix as he prepares to replace the Toro Rosso driver next year.

Verstappen said the news was “a dream come true” and “not something I could have imagined a few months ago”.

“I have actually been to Suzuka before, to take part in a go-kart race on the track that is located next to the main circuit’s back straight,” he added.

Verstappen’s father Jos made his Formula One debut with Benetton 20 years ago. “My dad has raced at Suzuka many times and he told me it’s not an easy track to start on,” he said.

“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,” he added. “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.”

Image © Pirelli/Hone

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Verstappen confirmed for practice debut on Friday”

  1. With torque like he never will have experienced before (having not driven in GP2 or tested a V6 F1 car), on a tight, demanding track, I think we can safely anticipate a gravel induced end to his session…

    1. @william-brierty Some say a baptism of fire is good…

      1. @optimaximal – It probably isn’t for a seventeen year old that is under the intense analysis of the worldwide media and is followed everywhere by statements like “he’s like Senna”. I would suggest he’s already under enough pressure without the tidal wave of scrutiny that will come when he’s sat in the Degner gravel trap surrounded by bits of JEV’s car. Remember Alguersuari’s first trip to Suzuka? That didn’t go well either (Brundle: “He’s clearly not ready” “He’s going to hurt himself before too long”)…

        1. @william-brierty But that second half of 2009 was basically extended testing for Alguersuari, like Ricciardo in the HRT. Swap around Ricciardo and Alguersuari, and I wonder if Jaime woud be driving the big car right about now.

          At least Max has tested the FR3.5 car. With his level of adaptability, tests in that are enough to have gotten used to that step up, before stepping up again. E.g. start of this year, FR2.0 testing straight to F3 testing.

          1. @fastiesty – That is exactly the point I am making with Alguersuari: Jaime was a Ricciardo grade talent spoilt by premature promotion, so what is stopping Marko ruining this young hopeful?

            What adaptability has Verstappen shown so far? The FR2.0 car is fundamentally similar to the Dallara F3 car, albeit the 2.0 litre Renault engine produces more power than the F3 car, and at the request of the FIA [to make “space” for GP3″] the Dallara F312 featured less aerodynamic grip than the F308, but were updated to mirror 2012 aerodynamic trends in F1. Put simply, Verstappen, until his FR3.5 test (which allegedly featured several spins in what is a comparable pussy-cat, in terms of power delivery, to GP2 and V6 F1 cars), has only driven entry level single seaters; now he is faced with F1’s most formidable cars since the 1980s on F1’s most formidable track.

          2. @william-brierty

            Jaime was a Ricciardo grade talent

            I don’t agree but more importantly nor does Franz Tost.

          3. @william-brierty Interestingly, it could be said that Jaime A was better in the entry levels too, rather than the more powerful cars like FR3.5. But as I pointed out – Ricciardo was best prepared. He had a Hamilton preparation – starting at 22. Alguersuari, and maybe Verstappen, could be done by then.

          4. @william-brierty I don’t know where you get the information from regarding the performance of a 2014 F3 car. A 2014 Formula 3 is closer to an FR3.5 than to a FR 2.0 based on laptimes. Qualifying times Hongaroring this year: FR2.0: 1:45, F3: 1:35 and FR3.5: 1:30. Moscow Raceway: FR2.0: 1:32, F3: 1:26 and FR3.5: 1:20.
            It’s still a giant leap from F3 to F1, but apparently smaller than from the FR2.0 (remember Kimi 2001?).

            And Verstappen had several spins during testing the FR3.5? Could be, but where did you get that information from?

          5. @keithcollantine – Tost may not agree in retrospect, but in 2009 there was nothing about his junior career that didn’t hint at potential future stardom, and comparatively there was certainly nothing more illustrious about Ricciardo’s junior career either. Really the only feasible reasons for such divergence in the outcomes of the two careers are a) he might suffered the “Van der Garde effect” (in that his career lost momentum as he raced more powerful cars) and b) his perception and therein confidence was damaged by being thrown in at the deep end in 2009, whilst Ricciardo, as @fastiesty points out, received a much more comprehensive preparation. Put simply, no driver in recent years has been truly successful without GP2/GP3/FR3.5 experience, it is now up to Verstappen to break that trend.

          6. @william-brierty Why is GP3 experience (Daniil Kvyat) sufficient for the leap to F1 and F3 experience is not? There is really not much between the two based on laptimes. Here I go again: Hungaroring qualy: 1:33 for GP3, 1:35 for F3. Silverstone: 1:47 (practice) for GP3, F3: 1:51. Spa: 2:07 for GP3, 2:10 for F3.

    2. I hope he’s going to exercise some caution at the Degners, or Jean-Eric Vergne might find himself sitting out FP2 as well.

      1. Didnt Lewis park it backwards into the gravel @165mph in his first test in a McLaren ?

        1. @greg-c Possibly crashed lap 1 in a kart as well. It’s all about finding the limit ASAP!

    3. the torque is over rated this year in f1, they are still driving pretty much on rails because of the complex engine mapping – just have a look at starts they uses engine settings just for the launch- it is essential launch control and pretty close to traction control too – even in the wet races. torque wont be a factor for max verstappen, just the outright speed and things like g forces which are not simulated in the simulator..

  2. I think the difficulty is being overrated big time, I sure as hell was strong enough at 17 to do things a man could, he’ll be fine.

    1. Yes, because strength is the only thing that matters…

  3. Well, good luck setting a solid time, but most importantly not crash! Suzuka – one of the more demanding tracks, especially for someone who isn’t all that used to high power engines etc.

    1. There is so much attention on this guy. I think it would be better to turn in some consistent slower times without pushing too much, than to set a good time before crashing out.
      Just get it over with, and next time start showing what he can do.

  4. Max Verstappen, who turns 17 tomorrow, will have his first run in an F1 car in an official practice session at Suzuka on Friday.

    I mean… It’s still so hard to believe. Mainly because I’m nearly 4 years older now but still feel younger than that, and a guy that young can drive an F1 car… Good luck to him, hope he won’t embarrass himself, and more importantly won’t crash JEV’s car.

  5. Excited to see the new Senna

    1. as the clown of the f1 paddock called him.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        29th September 2014, 15:16

        the clown who discovered Sebastian and Daniel. Or maybe Helmut and you worked in the same circus?

  6. ok, what abbreviation will FOM use for him? don’t think they’ll use VER for verstappen.

    my bet is VST!

    what do you think?

    1. @rigi If only they put MAX…. I agree on VST. If they had Jos on record, we could get an MSC situation.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        29th September 2014, 15:18

        @fastiesty I guess MSC is THE abreviation.

      2. Lewisham Milton
        29th September 2014, 15:19

        They could change Chilton to MIN.
        Why don’t they just use the drivers’ names?

        1. what would that stand for? MIN?

          FOM don’t change abbreviations for drivers. I mean, Rosberg had ROS so they gave Rossi RSI (funny story, i’ve always wondered what James Rossiters abbreviation might be, but he never got a shot unfortunately).

          Since i’m going to miss first practice due to work, could someone make sure to tweet what abbreviation they used for verstappen? :)

          1. Its a joke on MIN vs. MAX, ie. MAXimal expectations and speed from Verstappen and MINimal from Chilton @rigi

    2. What about MVE

    3. It would be a nice gesture to Vergne to change his abbreviation to JEV!
      He certainly deserves this (and a race-seat next year).

      PS: and then Verstappen can get VER

      1. that would only lead to confusion i’m afraid. even if vergne doesn’t get a seat for next year, verstappen shouldn’t have the VER abbreviation, especially as he’s taking his place at toro rosso. people will get confused by this, and normally it should take at least another 2 years before VER should be used again, and by then people will be used to see whatever verstappens abbreviation will be.

        1. @rigi, agree. I just thought it would be a nice gesture to Vergne.
          It will not happen as FOM never uses first name; thus no JEV.

          I put my money on VES.
          FOM seems to go to the next letter in the name for the last letter from Monteiro (MON) to Montagny (MOT).
          Although that does not explain Montoya (MOY), as he raced earlier. Maybe because in his days it was still full names.

          1. Oops MSC

          2. @coldfly fair enough with MSC, that is an exception given that they also had RSC racing too.

    4. I think he’ll get VES. And I think he’ll keep it next season regardless of whether Vergne is in F1 or not as it would cause some confusion if VER was replaced by VER! I wonder if there is a rule or something which means that your abbreviation doesn’t change once you’ve competed in a session.

      It’s similar to MSC and RSC, I suppose. Ralf kept RSC in 2007 and Michael kept MSC in his comeback years.

  7. Oh boy, fealing quite stressed for him already. The amount of confidence he will need to tackle the whole hour and a half must be staggering. How much of a god complex do you need to present after that ?

  8. I think this young lad sounds to have his head screwed on right, and he’ll be fine, even if he crashes out, which I don’t expect. After all…HE’s not the one calling himself the next Senna. He’s just gonna go out there and do his best and relish the experience. Forgetting his age and the Senna hype, any new young driver should be given his chance to show his stuff once in the lucky position they are in, with the understanding that F1 is supposed to be hard. If Max doesn’t impress right off the bat, it should be no surprise…he might not be trying to impress…just get some mileage in…which would show maturity in itself. Or he might find it difficult at first. Or if he does impress, it’s gravy. But he needn’t react to being hyped as the next Senna, as that so far has been one man’s public opinion. It’ll only be Marko who will have to eat his words, but the time for that will not be after one initial test, so I highly doubt, with all those close to him surrounding him with support, especially including his F1 father, he’ll have real pressure other than to soak it all in and learn as much as possible on this maiden voyage. He must be incredibly stoked.

  9. Well, I’ll get some flak for this, but I hope he fails. It’s simply impossible to like this kid at the moment. First of all he’s 2 years younger then me, and anyone who get this much, this early in life, well it just makes me bitter. With all the hype that’s going on, I suppose I’ll be mighty impressed if he does well, but I’ll still smile with quiet satisfaction if he’s in the gravel trap on Friday.

  10. Does anyone know if this kid has the FIA Super License to drive an F1. I checked the criteria for an FIA super license, and to the best of my knowledge, the only path possible for him to have the license would have been an unanimous council vote. Did he have one?

    Senna’ first F1 testing was nothing short of spectacular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xwZCqHpX7Q

    Let’s see if Marko’s predicitions come true.

    1. Did you read the article?
      Verstappen, who has been granted a superlicence by the FIA
      Also in previous weeks’ news it was said a few times that he’s done about 400km in an STR7 at Adria (300km minimum to get the Superlicence).

  11. Giving a 17-year old his first experience of an F1 car at the most dangerous circuit on the calendar (according to Gary Hartstein). Great idea!

  12. He will not have easy thing.

  13. Prediction: He’s no more than 0.150 off Kvyat’s best time in FP1.

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