Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says Red Bull’s faith in a young Max Verstappen went a long way in his success with the team.
The Dutchman ended Lewis Hamilton’s and Mercedes dominance over the turbo-hybrid era. A season-long title battle climaxed in a thrilling last-lap overtake at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s received acclaim from drivers and fans alike. Yet, Red Bull saw these results coming a long time ago. The season’s results come partly from the years of belief Red Bull invested in Verstappen. It started back with his recruitment into the team.
A promising young Max Verstappen had teams lining up to recruit him. Mercedes and Red Bull were competing to sign him in his junior career. Marko hailed Red Bulls a different approach as what helped them.
Marko commented, “Of course, we knew that Max was talking to Mercedes as well, but with Mercedes, he wouldn’t have come to Formula 1 so quickly,”
“They don’t take those risks with a newcomer. But my plan to sign him and put him into Formula 1 straight away wasn’t to outdo Mercedes. It was simply because I saw that he was ready for Formula 1 and that turned out to be the case.”
“I would say in general: Red Bull is different compared to Mercedes. We have much more of a ‘no risk, no fun’ mentality.”
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) February 3, 2022
Red Bull’s faith led Max Verstappen to become the youngest driver to start a race
The “no risk, no fun” mentality convinced Red Bull to promote Max to F1 when he was 17. Red Bull faced criticism for letting such an inexperienced driver on the track. In many countries, he couldn’t legally drive to the track!
“The criticism was to be expected, but in all honesty, it was a calculated risk,” Marko said. “We gave Max all the appropriate tests at Toro Rosso within the regulations.
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.”
Red Bull’s faith has paid off. Max Verstappen is one of the youngest champions ever and seems as promising as ever coming into the next season.