Formula One: Toro Rosso's Verstappen passes driving test on 18th birthday

Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso inside his team's garage during the second practice session at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, on Sept 25, 2015.
Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso inside his team's garage during the second practice session at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Formula One's first 17-year-old racer became the sport's first 18-year-old driver on Wednesday and Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen celebrated his birthday by passing his test at the first attempt.

As he said on his Twitter feed: "Legal to drive, born to race #driverlicense."

"It's great to be 18 and to have a driving licence," the Dutch teenager added on his personal website. "That I'm finally allowed on the road on my own gives me more independence, which is great. I have to say it's a relief to pass the test. I was a bit nervous to make mistakes, but the exam went well."

Verstappen, who scored points in Japan last weekend with ninth place at Suzuka from 17th on the starting grid, had told reporters then that he would have to wait to sit his test because of his intense schedule.

The desire for secrecy clearly had more to do with it, however.

He had passed his driving theory test before the start of the season but still needed to do mandatory lessons at home in Belgium before taking the test.

Flying straight back from Japan, the son of former racer Jos took his first lesson on Monday.

Despite his success, Verstappen insisted he still preferred to be a passenger on public roads: "It's a moment of peace and I still think that way," he said.