SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Dutch teenager Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend when he pilots a Toro Rosso in Friday morning’s opening practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who turned 17 on Sept. 30, has been granted a license by the sport’s governing body FIA clearing him to take part in Friday’s practice. He is scheduled to race for Toro Rosso in 2015.
He will be close to two years younger than current record holder Jaime Alguersuari, who was 19 years and 125 days when he contested the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Verstappen has been competing in this year’s European Formula Three season for Van Amersfoort Racing. He racked up the necessary mileage to qualify for a FIA license in a test earlier this month.
“It’s good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago,” Verstappend told Autosport.com.
Several drivers, including Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Adrian Sutil, have questioned whether Verstappen is old enough to compete.
Current champion Sebastian Vettel said he was excited to see how Verstappen develops but cautioned against pushing him too early.
“Of course, you always feel ready and you don’t say no if someone gives you the opportunity to race a Formula One car,” Vettel said. “But you have to take your time to get used to things. Not just the car, but also working with a team, which is completely different in Formula One.”
As he prepares for his first season in F1, Verstappen can ask his father for advice. Jos Verstappen competed in 106 F1 races from 1994-2002.
Like Vettel and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, Verstappen excelled at karting. He was crowned world champion last year.
Toro Rosso has nurtured the likes of four-time champion Vettel and Ricciardo — who has won two races so far this season for Red Bull.
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