Helmut Marko has spoken about the increased maturity of Max Verstappen – from being “shaped by his father” to becoming World Champion.
Although the Red Bull advisor has discussed before about how Verstappen was always mentally ahead of his years from the time they first met, there was always the strong influence in the foreground of his ex-racer dad Jos.
Marko, in his role as head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, has been ideally positioned to witness how the young Dutchman has evolved from prodigious rookie talent to a racer now being compared to the greats of previous eras such as Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.
The 78-year-old Austrian sees Verstappen as someone who has emerged from his father’s shadow to stand on his own two feet, speak his mind and deal with any issues in a grown-up manner.
Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko embrace. Abu Dhabi December 2021.
“You have to remember, he is still not older than 24,” said Marko during an interview with Austrian magazine Autorevue.
“Max has clearly matured. That also has a bit to do with the weaning, because he was super-trained and shaped by his father. The relationship is still very close, but Max has his own opinion today.
“This process of maturity was partly not so visible from the outside, but it has reached the highest level very quickly.
“Because in the past, if something didn’t go right in preparation, he would always explode. Today he stays calm. We had a few technical problems. Now he just sees the whole picture.”
Marko expanded on that more measured approach, albeit some onlookers would view it differently considering the clashes Verstappen got into with Hamilton in several of last year’s races.
“Verstappen has driven almost flawlessly, has improved in all areas and is no longer impetuous,” said Marko. “In the past, he would have liked to do everything on the first lap.”