Marko was struck by Verstappen's mature 'spirit' during first meeting

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says a "spirit" well beyond his years was what stood out most when he first met Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman garnered the attention of both Red Bull and Mercedes in late 2013/ early 2014 when, after impressing during his first tests in single-seater cars, he won in just his second single-seater race in the Florida Winter Series and would beat Nicholas Latifi two weeks later to claim his second victory in Miami.

But while Verstappen's talent was obvious very quickly, Marko revealed how his first meeting with Max was also different from most.


“He was about 15 years old at the time,” he told Motorsport-Total.

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“I usually talk to a driver for around 20 minutes so that I can get an idea of ​​the personality and the whole structure, but I sat with Max for an hour and a half.

“There was a very young body sitting there, but he had a spirit that was certainly three to five years ahead.”

The promise of a Toro Rosso Formula 1 seat for 2015 was ultimately what persuaded Verstappen to join Red Bull.

But his debut aged 17 with just one year of single-seater racing behind him also led to changes, with a minimum age of 18 and a new superlicence points system introduced to force young drivers into racing in F3 and F2 before even being eligible for F1.

Marko, however, questions the need for such limits. 

“If someone is 15 years old and has only had one year in a formula category, that’s a daring step and also a not insignificant risk,” he admitted.

“But I hope that this [the superlicence points system] will be revised because there are a lot of drivers who have 40 points but not the potential to succeed in Formula 1 and there are a lot of youngsters who would have the speed but not the necessary points.”