Max Verstappen has been a fixture in Formula 1 for years. He is said to be part of the furniture. However, his debut in 2015 was fiercely criticized, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost recalled in conversation with Fpal.
Max Verstappen had only had one season in motorsport when he made his Formula 1 debut in 2015. He drove in 2014 in the Florida Winter Series and in the European Formula 3 Championship. Even before Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko eagerly hunted for Verstappen’s signature, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost closely followed Verstappen’s actions.
“I kept an eye on him when he was still karting in the years before his debut,” the Austrian begins in an exclusive interview with Fpal. “I also saw all his Formula 3 races, really all of them. In that class you could already see how special his car control was.”
The highlight came at the Norisring, where he won all races in wet conditions: “That was something very special. He was almost a second and a half faster over a lap that only lasted 57 or 58 seconds. I couldn’t believe how he was driving. He instinctively managed to avoid the places where the danger of aquaplaning lurked.”
A Formula 1 test at the Adria circuit followed and Max Verstappen was announced as Formula 1 driver for 2015: “I remember at the time how we were strongly criticized for capturing a sixteen, seventeen-year-old boy who did not even have a driver’s license. But to me he was an exceptional talent.”
According to Tost, he showed that talent immediately during his first appearances between the big boys in some first free practice sessions at the end of 2014: “That session in Suzuka was no problem for him. At Interlagos he went completely wrong, but he knew “I knew at that moment that we would have no problem with Verstappen in Formula 1 in terms of driving.”