Verstappen ‘drove within his limits’ on F1 debut

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he left plenty in reserve when he made his F1 race weekend debut in today’s first practice session at Suzuka.

The Toro Rosso driver, who turned 17 on Tuesday, made history today by becoming the youngest ever driver to participate in a grand prix weekend. He did 22 laps in the team’s STR9 and was 0.443 seconds slower than team mate Daniil Kvyat when he was halted by a broken exhaust valve.

“Today for me it was all about getting experience in the car, especially on a difficult track like Suzuka,” said Verstappen.

“I was impressed with the engine power,” he added. “The car is bigger compared to the one I’m used to in Formula Three and there are a lot more things to think about while you’re driving, so I had to use some laps to get confident with such a different car.”

“I was not taking any risks and I drove within my limits for all the session, doing as much mileage as possible. I have to thank Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso for giving me the possibility to be in the car already this year on Fridays and get well prepared for next year. I find myself very comfortable in this team and I like my working group.”

Verstappen will drive in all of the remaining first practice sessions except in Russia next week, as he will be competing in the European Formula Three championship at Imola.

Max Verstappen’s F1 debut in pictures

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image © Red Bull/Getty

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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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19 comments on “Verstappen ‘drove within his limits’ on F1 debut”

  1. As a Dutchman I am very very excited to see the country’s biggest talent get a racing seat. He is calm, collected, intelligent and naturally gifted enough to make an impact. My friend was competing in the national karting races a few years back, and was quite successful until Verstappen came along and just won everything for the next two years. Here’s to hoping he will not endure the same luck as his father:)

  2. he defied the doubters, including me. amazing talent, I don’t surprise if he could win a race below 20.

    1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      3rd October 2014, 10:31

      That may depend on whether STR won’t put him out of a job before his 19th birthday :)

      1. I think if he was placed at the right team at the right time

      2. By the end of 2015, he’ll be 18. By the end of 2017, he’ll be 20, so, no, I dont think so, STR might hold on to him for three years.

        1. Red Bull could lure him in 2016 if he good enough for them, and that pushes Vettel out

          1. @f1indofans, this is the future speaking. Vettel is out of Red Bull.

          2. Formula-I (@)
            4th October 2014, 3:04

            @stigsemperfi yeah its amazing

  3. At first, probably like many people, I was very disappointed that Carlos Sainz Jr. was overlooked for Max Verstappen who has shown his talent in Formula 3 and now, after FP1, I can see why Toro Rosso and Helmut Marko really snatched Max before any other teams could.

    Yeah sure, it’s only practice, but his time relative to not only his teammate, but to everyone else, was (for me) surprising yet astonishing. For him to be 12th fastest and under half a second behind Kvyat is something a recently-turned 17 year old boy should be doing behind the wheel in what was his first and definitely won’t be his last official Free Pratice session in a Formula 1 Grand Prix at a track he’s never raced on before.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but he was faster than both Force India’s where both of their drivers are rising stars in today’s F1 racing with (now) 4 years F1 experience and a Mercedes powered car. Absolutely amazing!

    I wish all the best for Max as he has a massive future ahead and, it may be early to judge, a historical as well as successful future too. Good luck Max!

    1. Shouldn’t be doing* in paragraph 2

    2. I wasnt disappointed when sainz jnr was overlooked, reason being he was less than impressive in his career prior to fr3.5 thus questioning why he is so highly placed this year, team? Car?
      I do admit i hold max in a high regard due to his karting achievements but was surprised to see him so high today

      1. Nato’s not exactly setting the world alight in the other DAMS.

    3. @mattypf1 @kosmic164 He was also driving the normal nose, while Kvyat as testing the more RB-like upgrade. He beat Vettel and Kvyat in S3 I think already.

  4. This young man obviously has great ability but has not the trend been for young drivers to be very quick to equal or come within a whisper of their far more experienced peers. From a purely financial point it seems it might pay the teams to get the latest junior superstar keep him for say three years and then replace him with the next on the simulator favourites list. I was amazed by how good Buemi and Algersuari were but more recent new entries have shown they need hardly any experience to get up to speed .Modern day F1 cars and tracks must be much closer to the video games than WRC.

    1. The kid probably has never even played a video game he has been the stand out go karter his whole life with more alolades in that field than all the current “pay drivers” put together.

      1. From the report I understand he was driving well within himself ,I presume that implies he would have been able to say match Alonso on a track he has no experience on and in a car he surely has never experienced before. If it is that his existing talents equal the current best on the grid then next year should be amusing.

        1. Of course he was driving within his limits. Today wasnt about experience, practice or anything. He was there to prove a point; he put a quick lap to stay close to Kvyat and proceeded to complete the program with STR (until the car gave up).

        2. petebaldwin (@)
          3rd October 2014, 15:34

          @jpowell – I don’t think it implies much because all of the drivers would have been driving well within their limits today as well. No-one was out there banging in qualifying laps in FP1.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    3rd October 2014, 15:38

    Impressive start but with the amount of sim work he’ll have done with Red Bull and physically, the cars are quite easy to drive these days so I don’t see why it would be an issue.

    Putting a 17 year old in an F1 car 15 years ago wouldn’t have worked but these days, it’s not a problem.

    We know he has pace and we know he is physically able to do it. How he’ll cope at somewhere like Singapore will be interesting (just look at how much Kvyat moaned about it!) and we don’t know anything about how he’ll handle the pressure that comes with driving in F1 but good luck to him!

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