Shakedown runs for new Mercedes, Toro Rosso cars

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The official start of Formula One testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain isn’t until Tuesday, but Mercedes and Scuderia Toro Rosso have taken their respective 2014 cars out for short shakedown runs.

According to a tweet from Mercedes, their new W05 machine ran 40 kilometers today at the Silverstone circuit in England. At the controls was Nico Rosberg (pictured), who said on Twitter: “Such a great feeling. Just drove my new silver arrow for the first time. It looks quick, but I don’t know if it is quick yet!”

Per Mercedes, Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton will alternate each day of testing in Jerez, with Hamilton testing the W05 on Days 1 and 3 and Rosberg in for Days 2 and 4.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso confirmed that they got in a filming day with both of their drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, driving the new Renault-powered STR9 at the Misano circuit in Italy.

Both squads are set to officially launch their new challengers in Jerez – Toro Rosso going on Monday, Mercedes following on Tuesday.

Lest anyone think the two sides have somehow committed a violation of the F1 rule book by running early laps with their 2014 cars, this year’s Sporting Regulations state that each team can complete two promotional events outside of official testing during the year; those particular events cannot go over 100 kilometers in length and only Pirelli demo tires can be used in them.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.