Dutch teenager Max Verstappen becomes the youngest driver ever to take part in a Grand Prix when he takes the wheel for Torro Rosso in Australia this weekend at the age of just 17.
Verstappen recorded the sixth-fastest time in the first practice session but a battery problem limited him to six circuits in the afternoon session.
‘Since I was young I have wanted to be here and now I can’t wait to drive again,’ Verstappen told a news conference earlier.
Verstappen is the son of successful Dutch racing driver Jos Verstappen and has joined team Scuderia Toro Rosso for the season.
At the age of 17 he is not old enough to drive unaccompanied on Dutch roads and there are concerns he is too young and too inexperienced to cope with Formula 1 after two seasons of Formula 3 racing.
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve described the move as ‘the worst thing ever’ for the sport. ‘Does Red Bull [who own Toro Rosso] realise they are putting a child in F1?’ he is quoted as saying by the Guardian.
However, Torro Rosso’s youth development manager Helmut Marko says Verstappen is ‘an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades’.
His father drove for Benetton, Stewart and Arrows between 1994 and 2003.
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