F1's governing body has cleared the way for Max Verstappen to make history this week at Suzuka.
Under existing rules, a hopeful rookie can qualify for the mandatory 'super license' credential by testing for more than 300 kilometres under FIA supervision.
Verstappen, who turns 17 on Tuesday, did that recently at Adria in Italy, as Red Bull pushes F1's youngest ever driver into action at an unprecedented speed.
"He did 396 kilometres without any problem," said Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost in Singapore. "People were really impressed with his performance and now it's in the hands of the FIA."
Indeed, the Faenza based team announced on Monday that the Dutchman has been granted a super license, and will therefore make his Friday practice debut at Suzuka in Jean-Eric Vergne's place.
|Max Verstappen. (Photo: ToroRosso.com)
Even so, the Verstappen issue is a contentious one.
Some believe it is ridiculous that a driver who does not even qualify for a road-driving license can leap almost directly from karting to motor racing's highest category.
"His appearance (in Japan) will underline fears that the sport is simply too easy," The Times
correspondent Kevin Eason reports.
"The FIA ... is said to be examining ways of making F1 cars harder to drive," he revealed.
Another measure under scrutiny is the ease with which drivers can obtain the super license, after the FIA recently vowed to "review the qualification and conditions" for the credential.
Nonetheless, Max Verstappen is unfazed by the controversy.
"I don't look at social media too much," he is quoted by the Dutch website racexpress.nl
"There are many negative things written, but also many positive things as well. I just concentrate on what I'm doing."
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