Formula 1

Max Verstappen makes F1 history at Japanese Grand Prix

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17-year-old Max Verstappen made F1 history by becoming the youngest ever driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend in Japan. 

Suzuka is regarded amongst many drivers to be one of the most demanding of all the tracks, but despite this, the young Dutchman looked calm and composed. Unbelievably he was 12th fastest, only half a second behind team-mate Daniil Kvyat and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel.

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All eyes on Verstappen

On a weekend that was in potential doubt due to forecasters warning of a typhoon sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean, the first day of practice brought bright sunshine, a sign of things to come for the rest of the weekend, perhaps.

Despite the on-going battle for the drivers' championship between Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, it was hard not to be a little distracted away from that, with a lot of attention being focused upon Verstappen.

He is the son of Jos, a former team-mate of Michael Schumacher and a veteran of 107 grands prix.

Up in smoke

However, his impressive debut was unfortunately cut short as he suffered engine failure with just over six minutes of the one and a half hour session to go. 

Verstappen said over the radio: ‘I have smoke out of the engine – what do I have to do?’ He was told: ‘Stop the car.’

He had completed an assured 22 laps before the smoke became prevalent, forcing him out. 

Watching him in the garage was his father who told reporters: "The first lap I was a bit nervous, but now I’m calm." 

Next Ayrton Senna?

Boss Helmut Marko has claimed that the teenager, who's 17th birthday was on Tuesday, has all the makings to become the next Ayrton Senna. This can of course not be judged after just one practice lap, but it will be intriguing to see how he develops next year, when he joins Toro Rosso permanently.

Elsewhere, Nico Rosberg was fastest in the first qualifying round, making up for his disappointment at Singapore. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was just behind in second.

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