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'Considerable talent' teen aces F1 test

2014-09-12 08:24

COMPETENT INDEED: 16-year-old Max Verstappen showed his skills during his first proper F1 test on Wednesday (Sept 10). Image: AFP / Sander Koning

ALAN BALDWIN

LONDON, England - Dutch 16-year-old Max Verstappen had his first proper Formula 1 test on Wednesday as Toro Rosso ramped up preparations for his race debut in 2015 as the sport's youngest driver yet.

The team, based in Italy, said in a statement that Verstappen, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, who will be 17 on September 30 2014, drove the 2012 Toro Rosso at the Adria circuit near Bologna.

He did a mix of short and long runs, practice starts and pit stops, and completed 148 laps of the 2.702km circuit.

NO MISTAKES

"I was looking forward to my first drive in and F1 car on a proper race track and I really enjoyed it," he said. "It was a good opportunity to work with Xevi (Pujolar), my race engineer in 2015, and to get used to all the buttons on the steering wheel."

Team sporting director Steve Nielsen said the youngster had done "a very competent job, giving the impression he had been driving an F1 car for quite a while, not like someone on their first day behind the wheel".

"He made no mistakes, seemed confident, and once he was told something he remembered it. In general, he coped very well with this first test."

Toro Rosso's signing of the teenager has been controversial, with some questioning the wisdom of bringing a driver into the sport two years earlier than the previous youngest debutant, Jaime Alguersuari -  he made his debut with the team in 2009 when he was 19.

However Christian Horner, principal of sister team and 2013 champion team Red Bull, defended the decision while speaking during the previous weekend's Italian GP at Monza:

"I think it's a case of 'if you're quick enough, you're old enough'. Very seldomly a special talent comes along and warrants a place in F1. Verstappen quite clearly is a considerable talent."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
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