ROOKIE DRIVER ENJOYS HIS FIRST EXPERIENCE AT COTA
Up-and-coming Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen made Formula One history earlier this month when at age 17, he became the youngest driver to turn a wheel in anger during a practice session prior to the Japanese Grand Prix at the track in Suzuka.
Once again he was given a turn at the wheel during the first practice session of the 2014 United States Grand Prix being held at Circuit of the Americas on Friday. He joined the other 17 drivers in the weekend’s field, piloting the No. 38 car that belongs to his teammate for the upcoming 2015 season, Jean-Eric Vergne. During his practice stint he finished a respectable 10th place, just 1.844 seconds behind session leader, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Vergne’s teammate this year, Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, will be leaving Toro Rosso next year to join Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull Racing.
“I really enjoyed my experience this morning, driving at Circuit of the Americas for the first time,” said Verstappen. “I think it is a very excellent and very challenging track.It takes a couple of laps to get accustomed climbing the hill on Turn 1.It’s a blind turn, and you really can’t see exactly what line to take until you’re already going around the corner.But being such a steep incline, it makes the braking a little easier.
“Basically, I’d have to say that Sector 1 is my favorite. There are a series of fast left-right corners which are fun to drive when you get the car set up properly. It was pretty windy out there this morning, so that was a little bit of a factor, too, especially on certain corners.
“But overall, I felt very comfortable in the car,” he added. “I wasn’t trying to prove anything out there. I just wanted to gain some experience and become a bit more familiar with the track I had never driven on before, so I was only pushing the car maybe 80 to 95 percent. I didn’t want to push it to 100 percent and take any unnecessary chances with my future teammate’s car.
“My primary objective out there today was to learn the limits of the car, and give the technical support team a chance to evaluate tire use this weekend, in order to find out what tire combination might work out the best, during the race.
“Since I haven’t spent that much time behind the wheel of this car, I also needed to adjust to the increase in horsepower available with the current F1 car, compared to other open-wheel cars I’ve driven in the lower racing series. I really enjoyed my time out there, and look forward to coming back next year and fighting for a spot on the grid,” he concluded.