‘A calculated risk!’ Helmut Marko reveals how Red Bull beat Mercedes to sign a 17-year-old Max Verstappen

Red Bull adviser says their signing of reigning champion Max Verstappen at the age of 17 was simply because they knew he was ready for Formula 1 then

Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen
Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 season saw Red Bull reclaiming the driver’s world title which was eluding them since 2013 with their 15 years old dutchman Max Verstappen against a dominant Mercedes and 7times world champion Lewis Hamilton. Max Verstappen’s rise to the pinnacle of motor sports racing was quick as he became the youngest driver to compete in F1 debuting for Red Bulls sister team Toro Rosso at the age of 17.

Max Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull in 2016 following an amazing 2015 campaign a decision which attracted criticism from the F1 community as they deemed him to young for the ultimate challenge. Max Verstappen rose to the occasion growing though out his time at Red Bull often out performing his teammate and securing the ultimate glory in 2021 showcasing his aggressive driving skills to F1.

Now Red Bull Adviser Helmut Marko who played an important role in Max Verstappen’s recruitment is quoted by Motorsport.com saying Red Bull’s risk-taking mentality helped them in recruiting and developing Max Verstappen into a champion driver he is now.   

Find out what Helmut Marko had to say about Max Verstappen’s recruitment  

Marko Helmut and Max Verstappen
Marko Helmut and Max Verstappen

Helmut Marko says Red Bull and Mercedes was in contention to sign then young Max Verstappen but they took the calculated risk of directly introducing him to F1 as he finds Max Verstappen to be physically and mentally ready to race at f1 at the tinder age.  Helmut Marko went on to say that Red Bull was ready to embrace the criticisms as they never doubted the decision to sign him and added that his recruitment is a testament of Red Bulls “no risk no fun” mentality which Mercedes lack.

Of course, we knew that Max was talking to Mercedes as well, but with Mercedes he wouldn’t have come to Formula 1 so quickly. They don’t take those risks with a newcomer. But my plan to sign him and put him into Formula 1 straight away wasn’t to outdo Mercedes. It was simply because I saw that he was ready for Formula 1 and that turned out to be the case,” Helmut Marko said.

I would say in general: Red Bull is different compared to Mercedes, we have much more of a ‘no risk, no fun’ mentality. The criticism was to be expected, but in all honesty, it was a calculated risk,” Helmut Marko explained.

“…it’s always a risk because drivers who are successful in junior categories don’t necessarily have to be successful in Formula 1. But during the conversation I had with him, I was convinced that he was ahead of his time… physically and mentally he was strong enough for F1. We never doubted our decision,” Helmut Marko added.

Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen “has matured” a lot since joining F1

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Max Verstappen

Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen has matured a lot since joining them siting incident where he kept his cool in a free testing problem in 2021 where the old Max Verstappen would have exploded, as he is much more concentrated on what’s next for him.  Helmut Marko added that Max Verstappen is also much calm in on track incidents than in the past.

“He has matured. The difference is that, for example, if we had problems in free practice this year [2021], he stayed calm. In previous years he would explode or rant in the pit box. Now he knows that he can’t change it and the engineers can’t change it either. So, he is much more concentrating on the next session or his next chance,” Helmut Marko said.

Also read: ‘From Super Max to King of Cramps!’ Verstappen shares a light moment on Twitter while stepping up preparations for 2022 season