Teen Verstappen 12th Fastest in Opening Japanese Grand Prix Practice Session

Oct 03, 2014 03:00 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro


Max Verstappen became the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix weekend only days after his 17th birthday, breaking another Formula One record held by Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen recorded the 12th fastest time in the opening Japanese Grand Prix practice session, but admitted that perfecting his skills in the virtual world made things a little easier. 

Verstappen will become the sport's youngest ever race driver next year when he debuts for Toro Rosso. He replaced Jean-Eric Vergne for the opening 90 minutes at Suzuka, and replaced Red Bull's Vettel, the previous youngest after making his debut in 2006 at 19 years and 53 days, in the record books, according to Reuters.

Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat becoming the youngest points scorer at the age of 19 in Melbourne in March.

When asked if it found it hard to cope with the workload imposed on current Formula One drivers, Verstappen said with a smile "No, not really."

"All the different buttons and knobs, I think because the younger generation, you grow up with it, with all that kind of stuff and you play many times on the PlayStation," he said, according to Reuters. "And then you can see also the buttons, they are all there, so you already like have a first feel for it."

There are already high expectations for the Dutchman, who is too young to drive unaccompanied on public roads.

This time last year Verstappen was still racing go-karts. He is now in his first season of car racing and challenging for the European Formula 3 title. He will replace Vergne at Toro Rosso next year, according to Reuters.

Verstappen's arrival has caused some to question modern Formula One cars, with some saying they have become too easy to drive. The teen dismissed the idea, saying driving any car on the limit was difficult.

"I think an F1 car is never easy to drive, at least not easy for me," Verstappen said. "I don't know for other people but you can ask them. I think once you go on the limit it's never easy to drive in a racing car, even F3."

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