Helmut Marko states that Red Bull Racing has not second-guessed the decision to give Max Verstappen an F1 seat at a young age.
The reigning world champion’s F1 career started in 2015, when he was 17 years and 166 days old. It made him the championship’s youngest driver ever. There were concerns regarding Verstappen’s age at that time, but Marko assured that Red Bull never had any doubts in what the Dutchman was capable of.
“The criticism was to be expected, but in all honesty, it was a calculated risk. We gave Max all the appropriate tests at Toro Rosso within the regulations,” the Red Bull advisor said in a ‘Formula Max’ book.
“He made his first FP1 appearance at one of the most difficult circuits of the calendar, which was Suzuka, and it was somewhere good to see how he would deal with such a difficult track.
“All in all it was a very good preparation for his first F1 season. Of course, it’s always a risk because drivers who are successful in junior categories don’t necessarily have to be successful in Formula 1.
“But during the conversation I had with him, I was convinced that he was ahead of his time. Both physically and mentally he was strong enough for F1. We never doubted our decision.
“Max had a more experienced teammate at Toro Rosso with Carlos Sainz, he had much more experience in the junior series, but Max immediately started at the same level.”