Australian GP: No advice needed for teenage debutant Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen may be set to become Formula One`s youngest ever racer when he eases into his Toro Rosso at Sunday`s Australian Grand Prix, but advice from his rivals was in short supply three days before the 17-year-old`s debut.
Melbourne: Max Verstappen may be set to become Formula One`s youngest ever racer when he eases into his Toro Rosso at Sunday`s Australian Grand Prix, but advice from his rivals was in short supply three days before the 17-year-old`s debut.
"Despite the fact he`s still young, he has already experience and he`s quick -- otherwise he wouldn`t be here," four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel told reporters at Albert Park with a shrug.
"I don`t think he needs much advice."
The son of Dutch former Formula One regular Jos, a past team mate of Michael Schumacher, motorsport runs through Verstappen`s veins.
Paddock luminaries, including Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko, have queued up to lavish praise on the ruddy-cheeked rookie as a natural, if raw, talent.
He became the youngest driver to take part in a F1 weekend last year when he got behind the wheel in Friday practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, only three days after his 17th birthday.
A replacement for Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, Verstappen`s signing in August proved so controversial the governing FIA rewrote the rules, making 18 the minimum age for drivers to get a super-license.
Verstappen has taken the attention in his stride but surrounded by more seasoned colleagues during Thursday`s official media conference, he occasionally squirmed like an under-age boy that has snuck into a bar.
"You were born in 1997?" 30-year-old world champion Lewis Hamilton asked in mock wonder. "Jeeeezzz ... I signed my first contract with McLaren in 1997."
Daniel Ricciardo made the step up to Red Bull last year after a few years with feeder team Toro Rosso and was deemed as the best placed to pass on some pearls of wisdom.
"This is probably more cameras than he`s ever been in front of all his life," the amiable Australian said.
"They`re pretty friendly, they`re OK, so just go and enjoy it," he urged. "Get behind the wheel and remember that`s the main reason why you`re here is to be on the track Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"So enjoy those few hours and I think the rest will come."
Verstappen will partner with another rookie in 20-year-old Spaniard Carlos Sainz at Toro Rosso, the pair forming the championship`s youngest team.
Media shyness aside, Verstappen is unfazed about his globe-trotting life as a F1 driver, when most 17-year-olds are chained to school desks.
"To be honest, since I was younger, I`ve never seen something else because my dad was doing it," he said. "So, it doesn`t feel like anything new, I just deal with it."