Seventeen-year-olds in the Netherlands can’t hold a driving license, let alone hurtle around a track at 200 miles per hour.
But that hasn’t stopped Dutch teenager Max Verstappen climbing behind the wheel of a Formula One car to make history Friday during practice for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix and become the youngest driver to participate in the sport.
Not bad considering the legal driving age in his native Netherlands is 18.
At that age, most are preoccupied by schoolwork and teenage angst. But there’s no stopping Verstappen.
Next season, Verstappen will be a full-time racer for Toro Rosso which has historically been a stepping stone towards a drive with the hugely successful Red Bull Racing team.
“Today for me it was all about getting experience in the car, especially on a difficult track like Suzuka,” Verstappen told the sport’s official website. “I was impressed with the engine power.”
The son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, Max completed 22 laps of the Suzuka Circuit before engine failure brought his big day to a premature end.
His fastest lap of one minute and 38.157 seconds was only 0.443 seconds slower than his more experienced teammate Daniel Kvyat. World championship leader Lewis Hamilton recorded a time of one minute and 35.078 seconds in his Mercedes.
“The car is bigger compared to the one I’m used to in Formula 3 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,” added Verstappen.
“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. I hope to drive also in Austin, Sao Paolo and Abu Dhabi.
“Now that I know what it means to drive a Formula One car, I’m looking forward to it even more.”
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