Max Verstappen was the star of first practice in Monaco on Thursday when the Toro Rosso driver finished the session in second place, behind only Lewis Hamilton.
Remarkably it was also the 17-year-old’s first ever experience of the circuit, while all the other 2015 rookies have driven there in other categories. Rain meant that FP2 didn’t play out properly, and he hit traffic on his early run, so he didn’t have a chance of a repeat. It will be fascinating to see if he can carry his early form into the rest if the weekend.
“I was surprised,” said the Dutchman. “After the flag I was looking up at the screen and I couldn’t find myself, and then I went a bit up and went alright – that is a good lap then. The whole session I was building up slowly but already from the simulator to here, I think it was very helpful and it felt straight away very good on the track, and I could get a lot of confidence in myself. The laps were just coming.”
Verstappen said it didn’t take long to get up to speed: “Ten laps. You don’t want to take a lot of risk in the beginning, so you adjust your braking points lap by lap and cornering wise, I felt quite comfortable from the start. If you adjust the braking points, you get more temperature with the tyres and the brakes and everything, it just works better.”
Crucially, he’s fully confident in the car.
“It is really predictable round here, and that is very important if you know what the car is doing and you get a lot of confidence. Basically, a street circuit is all about confidence and feeling with the car, even set-up changes don’t make a massive difference, it is all in your confidence.”