Pujolar full of praise for Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso

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Toro Rosso race engineer Xevi Pujolar has heaped praise upon 17-year-old Max Verstappen, calling the Dutchman “the best I’ve seen so far”.

Verstappen will become the youngest ever driver to start a Formula 1 race in March at the Australian Grand Prix, smashing Sebastian Vettel’s existing record by over two years.

However, his rise to F1 has prompted criticism from many due to his age and relative inexperience, having completed just one year of single-seater racing prior to 2015.

Pujolar is not concerned though, telling GP Update that Verstappen is far beyond his years in terms of professionalism and has the potential to be one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

“He’s the best I’ve seen so far,” Pujolar said. “You can see the potential is there. You can see he’s going up.

“Some guys might be 10 or 15 years in motorsport, or even in F1, and their level of professionalism will never be as good as Max’s is at the moment.

“He wants to be the best and he works 100% for that. He wants the people around him to work just as hard. He’s pushing the engine guys, he’s pushing me and he’s pushing the team.”

Verstappen’s quick promotion led to the introduction of new criteria for the award of an FIA super licence required to race in F1. As of 2016, drivers will have to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving licence in their home country, meaning that Verstappen’s record may never be beaten.

During his first test for the team in Jerez at the beginning of the month, Verstappen put in a very impressive display to finish ninth in the final standings from the test with a good amount of track time under his belt.

Time will tell whether Verstappen’s rapid rise to F1 has been justified, but the early signs from the Dutchman are certainly encouraging.

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.