Max Verstappen certain he's ready for 2015 Toro Rosso F1 race seat
|By Ben Anderson||Friday, August 22nd 2014, 17:11 GMT|
Max Verstappen says he is ready to make the leap from Formula 3 to Formula 1 for 2015, despite currently being in his first season of single-seater racing.
The Dutch teenager will become the youngest driver to race in F1 in the sport's history when he replaces Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso next season.
Red Bull's decision to simultaneously sign Verstappen, 16, to its junior driver programme while also placing him straight into F1 led to criticism from 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who argued Verstappen's promotion was too rapid.
But current leading F1 drivers have said Verstappen's age is irrelevant to whether he can cope in the sport's top tier and the European F3 race winner reckons there is greater opportunity to prepare for F1 at a younger age in the modern era.
"You start a lot younger now in karting and car racing, compared to a few years ago," Verstappen said.
"They used to start at 19 or 20, now they start when they are 15 or 16.
"I think we have a lot more things available now with regards to data and simulators, so you're much better prepared to make a big step.
"I have always taken big steps. From karting to F3 was a big step, but I have always been together with my dad, so it has been a different environment for me.
"He was an F1 driver and really close to me and we did everything together.
"I think I am ready for it. The age is just a number."
Verstappen reckons the peripheral engagements surrounding F1 will be more difficult for him to get used to than driving the car, and he said he was not worried by the pressure of needing to prove himself at this level.
"I think driving wise it shouldn't be a problem, but I think everything around it will be the only problem," he added.
"What's important is you need to be fast on the track.
"I'm not concerned and I'm not even thinking about it. Look at Daniel [Ricciardo]: he was really fast and he gets a chance at Red Bull.
"So I think I have to do my best and be fast, and this [staying in F1] shouldn't be a problem."