Helmut Marko believes that Sebastian Vettel's skills have been eclipsed by Max Verstappen, despite their differing levels of experience.
Marko, who is responsible for bringing both drivers into Formula 1 with Red Bull backing, has said that the 24-year-old Dutch driver's level is already greater than what Vettel is capable of, despite the German scoring four consecutive titles with the team between 2010 and 2014.
Verstappen's title win in Abu Dhabi was the first non-Mercedes championship triumph since Vettel managed it himself in 2013.
With Vettel and Verstappen the only two Red Bull World Champions, it's the younger of the two who Marko says is now the stronger.
"Yes, without a doubt he is," Marko told ServusTV.
"What makes him stand out the most? He doesn't need a warm-up.
"If it rains somewhere, the others do five or eight laps. Then Max goes out and sets the fastest time on the first lap.
"Or Jeddah (the new track for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix) – nobody knew the track. The others were driving again, Max goes out… bang! Three times [fastest sector]. That is one of his fascinating qualities."
A maturing approach
With Verstappen becoming Formula 1's youngest-ever race winner at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Marko said that he has become a far more mature and versatile racer in the years since.
"He's a little less aggressive, yes, but can look at the bigger picture better now. That's an important difference," Marko said.
"In the early years, Max wanted to be the fastest at all times and under all circumstances. He has now learned to dose it and delivers it if it is really necessary.
"The discrepancy is he already showed that maturity during his very first race for Red Bull.
"Another important difference is that if we had a problem during free practice a few years ago, Max would explode and yell through the pit box. He sometimes took that impatience with him on the track, for example, if a backmarker did not move quickly enough.
"Now Max is much calmer. He performs consistently and at an exceptionally high level. He is truly an extraordinary driver."
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