Max Verstappen’s high speed rush from boyhood to the formula one grid will continue apace next week.
At Monza, Toro Rosso and Red Bull chiefs Franz Tost and Dr Helmut Marko respectively have played down the 16-year-old teen’s slow-speed crash during one of his very first demonstration outings in a F1 car recently in Rotterdam.
It is believed Verstappen got caught out by the same sort of ‘anti-stall’ issue that may have caused Mario de Villota’s crash in the Marussia two years ago.
“It’s probably easier driving on a circuit than trying to do donuts,” said Daniel Ricciardo, a highly successful product of Red Bull’s famous junior programme. “It’s harder than it looks.”
So Verstappen’s charge to become the youngest ever F1 racer by some margin races on undiminished.
The next step is obtaining the young Dutchman’s super license, amid speculation Red Bull is eyeing an earlier than expected Friday practice debut for Verstappen in 2014.
Earlier, it was announced that he would make his debut in this year’s Toro Rosso ahead of the US, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi grands prix at the tail end of the season.
But now it is believed Red Bull is targeting a Suzuka debut for Verstappen in just a few weeks’ time.
To that end, Speed Week reports that, next week, Verstappen will be in action at the Adria circuit in northern Italy, with a two-year-old Toro Rosso at his disposal.
Also present will be FIA officials, to observe Verstappen’s progress over the necessary 300 kilometres to qualify for the mandatory F1 license.
On his anticipated Friday debut in Japan, Verstappen will be exactly 17 years and 4 days old.
“What I’m a little bit concerned about is the message that could send to those thousands of kids starting to approach racing or karting,” Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci said at Monza, when asked about Verstappen’s inexperience and age.
Lotus team deputy Federico Gastaldi agreed: “I think they (young drivers) should have more kilometres under their arms. They should have definitely much more experience, like in the old days.” (GMM)