Max Verstappen - who turns 17-years-old - tomorrow, will make his Formula 1 debut at the Friday free practice session of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka with Scuderia Toro Rosso. The son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen completed a test session at the Adria race track in Italy with a 2012-spec Toro Rosso STR07 in order to qualify for a super license required to drive an F1 car during a race weekend.
Verstappen is already set to make his F1 racing debut in the 2015 season with Toro Rosso, which was announced this August.
“I am very much looking forward to taking part in a free practice session at a Grand Prix for the first time," said Verstappen on his official website. "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.
“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. 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.”
The announcement of Verstappen's debut in F1 has also kicked off a debate over how old a driver should be before being allowed to race in the sport and if the physical challenge of driving an F1 car has been reduced too much.
Conversely the argument supporting his inclusion counters this by trend of drivers' F1 preparations getting started at a much earlier age than before and also being done a lot more professionally.