Red Bull chief compares Verstappen to Senna

Max Verstappen

Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko has compared new signing Max Verstappen with F1 legend Ayrton Senna.

When Verstappen makes his grand prix debut for Red Bull junior squad Toro Rosso next season the Dutchman will be just 17 years old, making him the youngest driver ever to compete in the top tier of motorsport.

That has caused a significant amount of controversy, but Marko is unconcerned as he believes the teenager is “an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades.”

And, when asked who he would compare Verstappen with, Marko chose perhaps the most iconic name in the sport’s history.

“Most likely Ayrton Senna,” said the Austrian. “And in such a case you must not look at his age. He has been talking with people who are experts when it comes to the development of youngsters and they all say that (in terms of) his mind he is more like 22 than 16.

“And regarding his skills behind the steering wheel,” Marko continued, “he has been racing since he was four years old - professionally. So we expect him to be competitive from the first race.

“We are not playing the lottery - we know what we are doing. And success proves us right.”

Marko added that Verstappen is undergoing extensive preparation for the 2015 season, while admitting that there is still work to be done ahead of his debut in Australia.

“We work with him intensively. He will do some Friday runs. Not long ago he did a 400 km test in Italy, he’s in the simulator whenever possible and he’s working on his physique and psychology with top experts.

“Yes, some things became visible that we will have to address for the 2015 season. Having said that, he is getting the perfect ‘schooling’ before he gets on the grid.”

Verstappen will join 20-year-old Russian Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.