Verstappen to make Suzuka practice debut

By on Monday, September 29, 2014

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Toro Rosso has confirmed that Max Verstappen will make his practice debut in this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Verstappen, who will race for the squad in 2015, will replace outgoing driver Jean-Eric Vergne in the opening 90 minute session on Friday.

Toro Rosso had originally planned to give Verstappen his practice debut in Austin at the end of October but has opted to hand him an outing in Japan after the FIA granted the young Dutch driver his superlicence.

"I am very much looking forward to taking part in a Free Practice session at a Grand Prix for the first time," said Verstappen, who turns 17 on Tuesday.

"It is good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago. To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true.

"For me it will be a very valuable experience, spending some time in the car and also getting used to working with everyone in the team, to prepare myself for next year. I am not going there to break any records, I just want to gain experience. I have spent one day driving this track on the simulator, which helps a bit, but it’s no substitute for driving it for real.

"My first impression is that it’s not an easy track and for example it looks hard to get the combination right in the first esses. I have one and a half hours to drive there and I’m looking forward to doing a good job, for myself and for the team."

Verstappen's most recent Formula 1 experience came during a private test day at Adria earlier this month.

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