Stewart: Verstappen can be 'superstar'

By on Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart says that youngster Max Verstappen can be a 'superstar', provided he can handle the pressure of Formula 1.

Verstappen will race for Toro Rosso in 2015 but will make his Grand Prix weekend debut in Japan on Friday, when he pilots Jean-Eric Vergne's car during the opening 90 minute practice session.

At the age of 17 years and three days, Verstappen will become the youngest driver to take part in an official Formula 1 session.

"The world is looking at him - and that's not a small piece of pressure," Stewart told BBC Sport. "He has been sensational early in his career, but F1 is another story. He will face more pressure than a young driver would have been exposed to years ago.

"I've seen some great young drivers come along and the pressure has been too much for them. It can go either way. It'll be interesting to see how he adapts to that. There has been so much talk about him and his age. It's a big ask."

Stewart believes Suzuka is a tough venue for Verstappen to debut on but reckons he can become a 'superstar' should his ascendancy continue.

"There is no doubt that he has been given one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar to make his debut," said Stewart. "But he will have spent some time in the simulator practising the track - and that's a big advantage. He's an experienced racing driver and has won everything that can be won in karting and then formative classes.

"Toro Rosso believes they have to give him a shot. If he does that well, he is going to become a young superstar."

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