Verstappen to make F1 debut at Suzuka
New Toro Rosso recruit Max Verstappen will make his Formula 1 debut at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix with a run in Friday Free Practice.
The teenager will take part in Friday’s opening 90 minute practice session for Toro Rosso as he continues to gear up for his race debut with the team next season.
Verstappen, who will replace Jean-Eric Vergne at the Red Bull’s sister outfit next year, has been granted an F1 superlicence from the FIA in order to take part in the session.
This weekend’s outing will be his first run in a 2014 specification car having previously tested a 2012 Toro Rosso at Italy’s Adria circuit earlier this month.
The 400km completed at the venue was sufficient enough to qualify for a superlicence.
“It is good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago,” said Verstappen, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen.
“To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true.
“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.
“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.”
Friday’s appearance will see Verstappen, who will celebrate his 17th birthday this week, become the youngest driver to compete in an F1 weekend.