Marko: Verstappen will be immediately competitive

Max Verstappen with father Jos

Max Verstappen with father Jos

Red Bull driver consultant Helmut Marko is adamant that he has made the right decision to fast track the teenager Max Verstappen into Formula 1 predicting he will be immediately competitive.

The biggest story, of many floating around the Spa-Francorchamps paddock, is the recent news that the young Dutchman has been signed for Toro Rosso to make his grand prix debut next year in Australia and thus become the youngest ever F1 driver at the age of 17.

Marko – who was instrumental in developing Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo through Red Bull’s Toro Rosso nursery –  told BBC, “He is young in age but he has been racing since four years old so he is very experienced. We expect an exciting year with him and Daniil Kvyat and I think we will see a similar performance, where he is immediately competitive.”

Verstappen was being scouted by several Formula 1 teams, and a deal with Mercedes appeared to be in the offing, but the Red Bull option was sealed earlier this month and this week the announcement was made that 16 year old will replace Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso team in 2015.

Daniel Ricciardo with Helmut Marko

Daniel Ricciardo with Helmut Marko

Marko explained, “We watched him for a while and had discussion for a while. Going from go-karts straight away into F3 and being immediately competitive was one thing but then there were some races, like Norisring when it was completely wet and he was something like two seconds faster than anyone else.”

“That was something completely impressive and we decided we had to get him,” added Marko.

Meanwhile Max’s father Jos Verstappen who drove in 105 F1 races, for Benetton, Simtek, Footwork, Tyrrell, Stewart, Arrows and Minardi, believes his son has potential to be “a lot better” than him at the pinnacle of the sport.

“He is complete. He can keep his head cool in certain circumstances,” said Verstappen senior. “People grow up faster [these days], the world is moving quicker and that is why I think it is possible [for him to race at his age].” (GP247)