Helmut Marko is often views as the man that discovered Max Verstappen. The Austrian saw the youngster shine in Formula 3 at the Norisring in Germany and was sold on his potential.
The Red Bull talent scout and team advisor stunned the world by offering the then 16-year-old Verstappen an F1 contract. Since then his pupil has never let him down. RacingNews365.com spoke exclusively with Marko in Graz, and naturally we asked him what makes Verstappen so special along with where he's improved the most in recent times.
"Max has matured even more this year when it comes to speed," Marko stated. "He no longer wants to be the fastest in every training session.
"If he had problems he would get angry, but that is a a thing of the past. The potential is there and he's putting it to good use."
Nobody comes close to Verstappen at Red Bull, not even new teammate Sergio Perez. Marko explained what makes the Dutchman so special.
"Our car has been aerodynamically optimised, but that doesn't mean it is more sensitive," Marko added. "Max doesn't lose time when the car is more unstable.
"Every other driver gets into trouble. Max's incredible strength is that he adapts immediately. If there is rain, for example, he doesn't need any time to adjust. He showed that in the first few laps at Imola when he pulled away from the rest. That gave him a lot of confidence."
Marko also heaped praise on the Dutchman for his tyre management skills.
"It's incredible," Marko stated. "Max just sees and feels everything. For example, if the left rear tyre is getting a bit too hot he adjusts his driving style, but his lap time remains the same. Few drivers can do that.
"Even when both Mercedes cars put him under pressure in France, he drove on the limit and had problems with his radio. He is incredible. Max can drive insanely fast while talking at the same time. That proves what a great driver he is."
As for whether Verstappen has surpassed Hamilton, Marko doesn't know the answer to that question as he stated he has a lot of respect for the seven-time World Champion.
"You can hardly say that," Marko added. "They'd both have to drive the same car. We don't underestimate Lewis. If he is half a second behind us on Friday it doesn't mean anything.
"He always manages to be there in qualifying. He is a great tactician. We know we are up against a very, very strong opponent."
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