AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost has declared that Formula 1 still has not seen the maximum potential of current World Champion Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, then 17, made his F1 debut for Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix under Tost's guidance before being promoted to the senior Red Bull squad early in 2016 – winning on his debut for them in Spain.
After only fighting for the odd win between 2016 and 2020, Verstappen launched his first assault on the World Championship in '21, edging out Lewis Hamilton in the Abu Dhabi season finale in controversial circumstances.
And Verstappen looks set to become a double champion, enjoying an 80-point in the Drivers' standings ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with nine Grands Prix left in the '22 campaign.
Tost believes that his former charge will only continue to improve his standards and that he has not reached his full potential.
Tost expects Verstappen to get even stronger
"We had to take criticism when we entrusted the Toro Rosso to him [Verstappen] at the age of 17 – someone who didn't even have a driver's licence!" Tost explained to German publication F1-Insider.
"He also completed his first practice session in Suzuka (in 2014, days after his 17th birthday), one of the most difficult tracks of all, but he handled everything confidently.
"He never had any problems with the high speed of a Formula 1 car, and always had everything under control from the start.
"In his first races he was sometimes a little too aggressive, and this sometimes led to a crash, for example in Monaco [in 2015] with Romain Grosjean.
"But today he drives at an extremely high level – we still haven't seen the maximum from him yet!
"Only Charles Leclerc can come close to keeping up – the ravages of time have already gnawed at Lewis Hamilton."
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Tost compares young Verstappen to Schumacher
Although he never worked with Michael Schumacher in F1, Tost did try to sign the young German when he was rising through the junior ranks – and says that there were shades of Schumacher in Verstappen.
"I first met Max with his father at the Nurburgring and, at that time, he was still karting," added Tost.
"The next time was at the Norisring in Formula 3 (in 2014, where he won all three races, following on from another hat-trick at Spa-Francorchamps).
"In the rain, he drove in a league of his own, as if he was the only one who had discovered a dry line.
"He immediately reminded me of Michael Schumacher – you could see what [a] mega talent Max was."
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