AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost fondly recalls his first encounter with reigning Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen. It was at Nurburgring and Verstappen was racing karts. Then he ran into him again at Norisring, the weekend after he won all three timetabled races and was fresh off of another hat-trick at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, where he drove a race in his own bracket in the rain as if the pathways were dry.
He instantly reminded him of 7-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher, because he was up against a ginormous talent. Thus, Franz Tost tracked his first meetings with Max Verstappen, a driver who led to his breakout performance in F1 with Toro Rosso in 2015, despite being under the age of 18.
Franz Tost gives his take on Max Verstappen
“He has never had problems with F1 speed. I remember when Suzuka took part in the first free practice session in his career after having completed 17 years on a very selective track without having any problems. In the first few races he had a few too many accidents, it comes to mind what happened in Monaco with Romain Grosjean for example, but now he really drives at a very high level and in my opinion we have not yet seen his heyday,” said Tost.
According to Tost, only a driver who is just getting started in F1 can truly worry the defending world champion and leader of the World Drivers’ Standings. “Only Leclerc can worry him and keep up with him, I believe that the inexorable passing of time has already taken something away from Lewis. Hamilton to compete with Max. We received a lot of criticism when we made his debut in 2015, he didn’t even have a driving license, but Verstappen always had everything under control,” added the AlphaTauri team principal.
Verstappen already has a world championship on his resume, and at the age of 25, he will have won 28 races, putting him in 8th place overall among the most prolific F1 drivers, with only one triumph from 29 victories signed by Nigel Mansell.