Marko described Verstappen, who turns 17 years old next week and will drive for Toro Rosso next year, as “an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades”.
In an interview with the official F1 website Marko compared Verstappen to Senna, who like Verstappen went straight into F1 from Formula Three.
“In such a case you must not look at his age,” said Marko. “He has been talking with people who are experts when it comes to the development of youngsters and they all say that (in terms of) his mind he is more like 22 than 16.”
“And regarding his skills behind the steering wheel, he has been racing since he was four years old – professionally. So we expect him to be competitive from the first race.”
Verstappen will be the youngest driver ever to start an F1 race by almost two years when he makes his debut in the 2015 F1 season. But Marko said Red Bull were not taking a chance by choosing him.
“We are not playing the lottery,” he said. “We know what we are doing. And success proves us right.”
Verstappen has already tested one of Toro Rosso’s F1 cars and will drive for the team in free practice sessions later this year. “He’s in the simulator whenever possible and he’s working on his physique and psychology with top experts,” said Marko.
“Yes, some things became visible that we will have to address for the 2015 season. Having said that, he is getting the perfect ‘schooling’ before he gets on the grid.”
2015 F1 season
- How a secret Mercedes engine mode helped pressure Vettel into a race-ending puncture
- Over 100 driver penalties issued in record-breaking 2015
- Part-time racer? The facts of Hamilton’s ‘jet-set lifestyle’
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2015 season review
- Your favourite – and least favourite – F1 races of 2015
Image © Red Bull/Getty