Marko recalls first meeting with 'extraordinary' Max Verstappen
Helmut Marko says that Max Verstappen had an “above average” maturity when the pair met each other for the first time when the driver was just 15-years-old.
The Dutchman has been part of the Red Bull family through the junior ranks and finally into Formula 1, where he has flourished to become one of the fastest and most exciting drivers on the grid.
Maturity was an issue for Verstappen in his first couple of years, with him earning the nickname ‘Mad Max’ due to some of his exploits during races as well as some of his comments to the media, but the 2019 season saw a more level-headed Max.
In terms of how to drive, he was always more mature than his years, however, according to Marko.
"He was about 15 years old at the time,” the Red Bull advisor told Motorsport.com, reminiscing about meeting Verstappen for the first time.
“I usually talk to a driver for about 20 minutes to get a picture of his personality and the whole story, but with Max I sat for an hour and a half.
“He was a young body, but with a mind that was certainly three to five years ahead. Now his development has slowly levelled off and his age and maturity have come together. And it's far above average.
“If someone is 15 years old and has only one year in a formula [single-seater] category behind him, then that's a bold step and also a not insignificant risk,
“But I saw what maturity he had and how much he had learned in his karting time, and with what commitment he approached his racing."
Verstappen was fast tracked into F1 by Red Bull due to his undoubted talent, which prompted tougher regulations to be introduced for bringing young drivers into the sport, such as earning a certain amount of points on their super license to be considered.
Marko wants this system revamped, though.
"I hope that this will be revised, because there are many drivers who have 40 points but not the potential to succeed in Formula 1,” he said.
“And then there are many youngsters who would have the speed but not the necessary points."
“Max triggered incredible emotions and reactions, but in retrospect I'd do it again.”
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