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Max Verstappen Q&A: I was in full 'safe' mode for debut run

03 Oct 2014

Max Verstappen made history at Suzuka on Friday morning when he became the youngest driver to participate in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend, deputising for Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in FP1.

Far from being overawed by the occasion, the 17-year-old said it took him just a handful of laps to start bedding in with the STR9 - adding that he finished 12th fastest despite focusing purely on gaining experience rather than chasing headline-grabbing lap times...

Q: Your first taste of a 2014 Formula One car, and your first official Grand Prix session. How was it today?

Max Verstappen: At the moment I'm really happy, I enjoyed it and I think that was the main thing today - just getting experience, driving around and getting used to an F1 car. Once I was driving I was enjoying it a lot. I was quite calm before I jumped in the car because for me the main thing was just to get used to the car - and that's what I did.

Q: How long did it take you to acclimatise? The STR9 is obviously far more powerful than what you are used to in Formula Three...

MV: It took me two or three laps to get used to it of course, because I have never driven here before and this was my first time in this type of car. But in a few laps you feel quite comfortable. It was quite alright - today was just getting used to the first bits of the car. At the end I managed quite well I think.

Q: Did anything about the car surprise you? What were the main challenges?

MV: The power and the engine really - that makes a lot of difference. But also the brakes, the steering - everything is completely different. The torque you have is quite a lot so you have to manage that with throttle application. I had to take some laps [to adjust] for that but I think at the end it wasn't not too bad.

Q: How about the working environment - the attention to detail within the team?

MV: Yeah, but I don't see that as a big change, it's just more people around you. I think it's always better to have that!

Q: You ended the session 12th fastest, and within a few tenths of your future team mate Daniil Kvyat. How pleased are you with that?

MV: Honestly my feeling was that I was not pushing at all. For the whole session I was driving safe - I didn't want to crash, I just wanted to make laps and that's what I did. I think I was straight away quite okay with the pace, but I was just getting used to the car. I was building up pace and confidence lap by lap. Step by step I am learning everything - and step by step you can push more.

Q: So do you now feel ready for F1 racing?

MV: Sure. I still need some time in the car to get used to it, but I still have some practices ahead so I'm looking forward to it. Of course [my confidence is higher now] because I did some laps so now I know more what the car is doing, when before I had no experience, so for sure it will be better and better. I'm getting there.

Q: How about your engine issues - you seemed to deal with a smoking car very calmly...

MW: I saw some smoke coming out [the rear of the car] and I know what's happening then! You can't change it anyway, so I just stopped the car and walked back.

Q: And what about your father Jos? Was this a special moment for both of you?

I think he was quite nervous and I was calm, so it was quite funny. We have done everything together, so if you accomplish something like this it's a great feeling. He has taught me a lot.

Q: Will it be a bit of a relief to get away from the attention for a while, having now made your Grand Prix weekend debut?

MV: I don't feel any pressure really. I'm quite relaxed - I don't worry about it.