Verstappen impressive once again in second F1 run-out

3 Comments

Max Verstappen has put in yet another impressive display during his second Formula 1 practice run-out ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin.

The 17-year-old is set to make his F1 debut in Australia next March, and will smash the record for being the youngest ever driver by almost two years.

Although his inexperience and age has been hotly debated by those within the F1 paddock over the past few months, Verstappen has been strengthening his case with a number of impressive displays during practice for Toro Rosso in place of Jean-Eric Vergne.

At the Circuit of The Americas today in Austin, Verstappen finished FP1 in tenth position ahead of some big names such as Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who could not match the Dutchman for pace.

Verstappen could not match the lap set by the other Toro Rosso driver, Daniil Kvyat, who finished in fourth place. The Russian was the only driver to complete more laps than Verstappen during the session.

Ever since he broke onto the scene with an impressive performance in the Florida Winter Series and the FIA F3 European Championship, Verstappen has been something of a revelation in motor racing. Although his age has been a cause for concern, he is quickly proving that it is indeed just a number, and that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

Leave a comment

Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter