(Reuters) - Dutch 16-year-old Max Verstappen had his first proper Formula One test on Wednesday as Toro Rosso ramp up preparations for his race debut next year as the sport’s youngest ever driver.
The Italy-based team said in a statement that Verstappen, who will be 17 on Sept. 30, drove the 2012 Toro Rosso at the Adria circuit near the Faenza factory.
The son of former F1 racer Jos Verstappen attempted a mixture of short and long runs, as well as practice starts and pitstops, and completed 148 laps of the 2.702km circuit.
“I was looking forward to my first drive in a Formula One car on a proper race track and I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“It was a good opportunity to work with Xevi (Pujolar), who will be my race engineer next year, as well as having a chance to get used to all the buttons on the steering wheel.”
Team sporting director Steve Nielsen said the youngster had done ”a very competent job, giving the impression he has been driving a Formula One car for quite a while, not like someone on their first day behind the wheel.
“He made no mistakes all day, seemed confident and once he was told something he remembered it. In general, he coped very well with this first test.”
Toro Rosso’s signing of the teenager has been controversial, with some questioning the wisdom of bringing a driver into the sport two years earlier than the previous youngest ever debutant.
However, Christian Horner, principal of sister team and champions Red Bull, defended the decision at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“I think it’s a case of if you’re quick enough, you’re old enough. Very seldomly a special talent comes along and warrants a place in Formula One,” he said. “Verstappen quite clearly is a considerable talent.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar