Sixteen-year-old Max Verstappen has completed his first proper test day as a Formula 1 driver with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team by running a number of laps around the Adria International Raceway in Italy.
Ahead of his planned debut in Formula 1 in 2015 as partner to Daniil Kvyat at the Faenza-based team, Verstappen completed 148 trouble laps of the 2.702 kilometre track, and did a mixture of short and long runs as well as running through scenarios and other features the Dutchman might experience during an F1 weekend.
The session began on a damp track after overnight rain, and Verstappen’s first few runs, in the 2012 STR7 Toro Rosso, were on intermediate tyres, but conditions improved sufficiently so he could run on slick tyres later in the day.
“I was looking forward to my first drive in a Formula 1 car on a proper race track and I really enjoyed it,” said Verstappen after the session. “It was a good opportunity to work with Xevi [Pujolar], who will be my race engineer next year, as well as having a chance to get used to all the buttons on the steering wheel. I think it went well and I can’t wait to get back into a Formula 1 car as soon as possible.”
His race engineer Xevi Pujolar was impressed with Verstappen’s driving, especially as it was the Dutchman’s first time testing an F1 car. He praised his focus and was happy to see that the sixteen-year-old was quick to learn to adapt to the STR7.
“Max started his run on Intermediates and got up to speed, making no mistakes,” revealed Pujolar. “We worked through various procedures that make up a race weekend. He was very focused and precise and learned quickly, without having to ask many questions.
“Once we were able to fit slicks, he got used to the car in the dry and built up his speed, while we tried various fuel levels, replicating both qualifying and race trim, doing a mix of short and long runs. For a first day, it was very impressive.”
Sporting Director Steve Nielson, overseeing the test in Italy, was equally impressed with Verstappen’s running, even commenting that the Dutchman looked less like a rookie and more like a more experienced driver on circuit.
“In his first real test in a Formula 1 car, Max did a very competent job, giving the impression he has been driving a Formula 1 car for quite a while, not like someone on their first day behind the wheel,” said Nielson. “He made no mistakes all day, seemed confident and once he was told something he remembered it. In general, he coped very well with this first test.”