• Toro Rosso

Marko: Verstappen is like Senna

ESPN Staff
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Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko thinks new Toro Rosso signing Max Verstappen's is comparable to the late Ayrton Senna; "an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades".

Verstappen will become F1's youngest driver by nearly two years when he drives for Toro Rosso next season aged 17. The teen prodigy recently compared himself Fernando Alonso, considered by many to be the most complete driver of the current grid.

But Marko - who played a key role in bringing Verstappen into the outfit's young driver programme - has gone one step further than that, saying he believes Verstappen is more like Senna, the man widely regarded as the greatest driver in F1 history.

"Most likely Ayrton Senna," Marko told the official F1 website when asked to compare Verstappen to another driver. "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, 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 does not think Verstappen will have any trouble adapting to life in F1 so early in his career, even if there is work to be done.

"Mentally he is past 20 years old. And yes, 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."

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