Toro Rosso’s 2015 signing Max Verstappen will make his Formula One Grand Prix weekend debut this Friday, after the team confirmed he will replace Jean-Eric Vergne for the first practice session in Japan.
The switch, which Toro Rosso first alluded to in August, means Verstappen will drive in an official Grand Prix session just three days after his 17th birthday.
“To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true,” said Verstappen, who recently completed a 400-kilometre test in a two-year-old Toro Rosso and has now obtained the mandatory FIA Super Licence.
Verstappen, the son of the former F1 driver Jos, will drive Jean-Éric Vergne’s car in the first practice session at Suzuka. “It is good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago,” said Verstappen, who will replace Vergne next season. “To already be participating in a practice session is a dream come true. My dad has raced at Suzuka many times and he told me it’s not an easy track to start on,” he said. “I’m not going there to break any records, I just want to gain experience.