Carlos Sainz has insisted he first identified the hype around Max Verstappen before the duo first made their Formula 1 debuts together in 2015.
The duo were promoted to race seats at Toro Rosso in 2015 as part of the Red Bull junior programme, with Verstappen becoming the youngest F1 driver in history aged just 17 years old when he made his debut in Australia.
Sainz and Verstappen were closely matched during their 23 races together before the Dutchman was promoted to Red Bull ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix - which he would win after a race long battle with then-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
While the Dutchman has gone on to take 46 wins and two titles during his spell at Red Bull, Sainz has moved from Toro Rosso to Renault [now Alpine], then to McLaren and finally to Ferrari, taking his maiden win at last season's British GP.
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Sainz's Verstappen hype
And when asked ahead of F1's return from the summer break at Verstappen's home Dutch Grand Prix when he first saw the hype around him, Sainz told media including RacingNews365:."If there was something Max never lacked, it was hype around him.
"I think he had the hype even well before his debut in Formula 1, when he was in F3 [in 2014], he already had a lot of following.
"His first year in F1, he came in and stormed it, so it doesn't surprise me at all, because since I debuted with him in 2015, eight years ago, I've always seen that hype.
"I've always understood it, because he is a special talent and someone that is performing really, really well since the beginning."
Another former teammate in Pierre Gasly also offered his thoughts, adding: "It was clear already from a very young age, when we raced in karting that the hype around him was already very different to other drivers," explained Gasly, who raced alongside Verstappen at Red Bull in the first-half of the 2019 season.
"It was clear going up the ranks that there was more attention, more focus, driven by the name, the performances, the hype around Jos and Max's relationship.
"It was no surprise the way that he came to Formula 1 and performed and the switch to Red Bull just amplified everything that followed.
"But it is no surprise that he is where he is today and he's got the following, especially in the Netherlands.
"From an outside point of view, he seems to pretty much be the icon of the country, so it explains why 99.9% of the grandstands are full of orange when we go to Zandvoort."