Verstappen has clear advice for 17-year-old Antonelli: "Make mistakes!"

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Verstappen advises Antonelli ahead of F1 debut
29 May at 07:00
  • Nicole Mulder

Two names that are currently being mentioned a lot in Formula 1's silly season are those of Oliver Bearman and Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The latter is still only 17 years old, but can reportedly prepare for an early debut in the premier class. As an expert by experience, Max Verstappen has extensive advice for the young racing talent.

Antonelli has all the requirements to qualify for a super licence except his age. After Verstappen made his Grand Prix debut at the age of 17, the superlicence eligibility rule was changed. As a result, drivers under 18 are not eligible, a rule the Dutchman himself is not in favour of.

Verstappen as an expert

The Italian won't have to wait long anyway. On 25 August, he will turn 18 and may apply for his super licence. His F1 debut is likely to follow not much later. Verstappen knows better than anyone what is involved in making his debut at such a young age. "You're such a rookie, that there are so many things that you still have to learn," says the Red Bull Racing driver.

"For me, the biggest one was doing a full race distance, in F3 at the time, you do 35-minute races. So, there's a lot more involved. Looking after your tyres is a big part of it. These tyres are so particular and sensitive compared to some other categories. Of course, in F2, and F3, you're running on Pirellis already. But for me at the time, that wasn't the case," he explains.

Verstappen advises Antonelli: "Make mistakes"

Verstappen advises Antonelli not to dwell too much on what is happening to him and, above all, not to be afraid of making mistakes. "When you're talented, and you can see that with Kimi, he's very talented. I don't think you should be too worried, just make mistakes, you have to make mistakes.," the reigning world champion continued.

He added: "Ideally, of course, you like to make those mistakes when you're not fighting for championships. I also got lucky with that, starting at Toro Rosso. So at the time, not many people are looking at you all the time. You can make some silly mistakes here and there, but it's important to make them. Because even though you tell yourself all the time, I cannot do this, I cannot do that, you will only adapt if you make them and then move forward.."

In addition, Verstappen cites growing up as a person, even off the track, as an important factor. "And then it's just... Understanding the setup of a racing car more and more over time, of course. Cars evolve,  but when you're with one particular team, when you know more or less what works or not, being with the same kind of race engineers and people around you, all these kinds of things, the more you spend time with them, the better it comes. The more it comes to you. But again, don't try to think about it too much. Just let it happen. When you're that young, just focus on trying to go as fast as you can."

Williams reportedly want the Mercedes junior to make his debut before the age of 18, for which dispensation is said to have been requested from the FIA. However, according to the regulations, an exception can only be made if a driver has not yet accumulated enough points on his licence. For the minimum age, there seems to be no room for this for the time being.