Verstappen's age a talking point at Belgian GP

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm •  Published: August 21, 2014
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SPA, Belgium (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg resume their title bids at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, with 11 points separating the Mercedes teammates and Hamilton leading 5-4 in race wins. Among the sport's talking points is the news that Max Verstappen will become the youngest ever F1 driver when he makes his debut at the age of 17 in next year's championship. Meanwhile, drivers Alexander Rossi and Andre Lotterer are set for F1 debuts of their own in Spa, where Frenchman Romain Grosjean needs to find some form.

Here are five things to know ahead of Friday's first practice session:

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A QUESTION OF AGE

Although Daniil Kvyat is only 20 years old he will be in the unusual position of being Toro Rosso's senior driver next season.

The Russian is set to race alongside Max Verstappen, who will be 17 when the 2015 season starts, making him the youngest ever F1 driver.

Kvyat tips Verstappen — who is replacing Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne — to handle the pressure.

"I think it's not as complicated as it looks to all of you," Kvyat said Thursday. "I think any driver can come to Formula One, can adapt, can get up to speed ... because he has talent, because he has been successful somewhere."

Other drivers, however, worry that Verstappen may struggle to cope with the demands of F1.

"Seventeen is a little bit young. We need to wait and see how he's going to perform in his first year," said 33-year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, who first got to grips with an F1 car in 2001. "I was 20. I think it was a little bit too early for me."

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who now races for Red Bull after coming through the junior program with Toro Rosso, also sounds circumspect.

"Obviously the age is the question mark but the talent is there," he said. "It's going to be interesting."

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GRIM FOR GROSJEAN

French driver Romain Grosjean had high hopes for this season after stepping up as Lotus' No. 1 driver following Kimi Raikkonen's switch to Ferrari.

Things have not turned out as hoped, however, and Grosjean — who has only eight points so far — is reportedly considering his future.

"We still have to understand and analyze a bit more (about) this difficult season," he said. "There were many reasons why we started on the back foot."

Grosjean has a best finish of eighth place so far and has retired from five races, including the past two. Last season he finished on the podium four times in the final six.

The team sits in eighth place in the constructors' championship with a meager eight points, having finished fourth overall last year.

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