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Max Verstappen impresses with P12 on FP1 debut

Published on 03 October 2014 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen showed true racing pedigree in his first official Formula 1 Grand Prix outing by clocking a twelfth fastest time on his Suzuka debut. After 22 laps, the Red Bull Junior, set an impressive 1:38.157 in his Scuderia Toro Rosso, only a few tenths adrift from his future team mate Daniil Kvyat.

More importantly, Max was able to put in plenty of laps and thus gain vital experience. The way the Dutchman improved throughout the session showed confidence and composure, confirming his talent and skills.
Meanwhile, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg topped the leader boards after FP1 at the famous Japanese track. The Infinity Red Bull Racing drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel occupied seventh and ninth.

Free practice 1 is a special occasion for the Verstappen family, not least for Max who became the youngest ever F1 driver active during a Grand Prix weekend. Furthermore, Verstappen junior makes his debut on the track and with the team (former Minardi) for which proud father Jos Verstappen drove his last Grand Prix in 2003.

As the pit lane light goes green at 02:00am BST, Max is one of the first drivers to hit the track. Fifteen minutes into the session, the Red Bull Junior enters his first flying lap but a yellow flag prevents him from setting a proper fast lap. Unfazed by it all, Max continues his run and soon he is banking 1:39s. After eight laps, he occupies P13.

With 40 minutes remaining, the Dutchman hits the track with a fresh set of Pirellis. Early on is this run, Max sets his fastest lap, which at that point grants him P11. In the closing stages of the session, Max is unable to improve on his lap. Unfortunately, he does not finish FP1 due to an engine failure and the Red Bull Junior is forced to park his car with seven minutes on the clock. Nevertheless the team and the Verstappens are delighted with Max' first outing.

“My first official F1 free practice session went very well”, explains a happy Max. “I was able to take my time and build up my pace and confidence. With my fastest lap and P12, I’m pretty happy. Especially because I felt I wasn’t going all out. My goal was to clock as many lap as possible without taking too many risks. In my fastest lap, I hit a bit of traffic so overall I’m happy with that lap time.”

Max continues: “Suzuka is a beautiful but difficult track to drive. You really have to nail the corner sequences. The car I drove today felt a bit different compared to the 2012-spec Toro Rosso I tested before, but the STR9 felt great to drive. The same goes for the collaboration with the team. Everyone is really nice and I feel right at home. There is so much know-how around and the guys are all true professionals. I can’t wait to be in the car at Austin.”

If you want to kit yourself in a Scuderia Toro Rosso outfit have a look in our webshop which features Max’ own well-known merchandise as well as a range of Toro Rosso items.

Results free practice 1, GP Japan
Lap times free practice 1, GP Japan

Results free practice 1 – GP Japan - Suzuka:

   Nr Driver              Team                     Time 
 1  6 Nico Rosberg        Mercedes                 1:35.461 -     27 
 2 44 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes                 1:35.612 0.151 26 
 3 14 Fernando Alonso     Ferrari                  1:36.037 0.576 19 
 4 77 Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Mercedes        1:36.576 1.115 25 
 5  7 Kimi Räikkönen      Ferrari                  1:37.187 1.726 19 
 6 20 Kevin Magnussen     McLaren-Mercedes         1:37.327 1.866 24 
 7  3 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull Racing-Renault  1:37.466 2.005 27 
 8 22 Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes         1:37.649 2.188 24 
 9  1 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull Racing-Renault  1:37.686 2.225 26 
10 26 Daniil Kvyat        STR-Renault              1:37.714 2.253 26 
11 19 Felipe Massa        Williams-Mercedes        1:38.012 2.551 22 
12 38 Max Verstappen      STR-Renault              1:38.157 2.696 22 
13 11 Sergio Perez        Force India-Mercedes     1:38.324 2.863 10 
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes     1:38.582 3.121  9 
15  8 Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault            1:38.851 3.390 21 
16 99 Adrian Sutil        Sauber-Ferrari           1:39.046 3.585 19 
17 13 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault            1:39.097 3.636 26 
18 21 Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber-Ferrari           1:39.318 3.857 18 
19  9 Marcus Ericsson     Caterham-Renault         1:40.031 4.570 18 
20 45 Roberto Merhi       Caterham-Renault         1:41.472 6.011 24 
21 17 Jules Bianchi       Marussia-Ferrari         1:41.580 6.119 10 
22  4 Max Chilton         Marussia-Ferrari         1:41.757 6.296 15