In a recent interview, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko revealed how Mercedes boss Toto Wolff initially doubted the extraordinary talents of a young Max Verstappen.
Marko’s revelation provides a fascinating glimpse into Verstappen’s early days in the sport, when his potential went unrecognised by the current Mercedes CEO.
“At first, he didn’t share my enthusiasm for Max,” Marko disclosed, shedding light on the skepticism surrounding Verstappen’s abilities.
“When I first made that comparison, he said, ‘That’s enough now!’.”
Marko continued to reveal that Wolff’s perspective on Verstappen was far from enthusiastic in the initial stages of the Dutch driver’s career.
“Mr. Wolff said at the time that Verstappen’s talent was not recognisable, and he chose Esteban Ocon for the Mercedes driver program.
“His talent wasn’t apparent enough in Formula 3?” Marko mocked, adding, “Then I don’t know what exactly Toto saw.
“When I saw Max at the Norisring, it was completely clear to me that he had something special.”
Marko vividly recalled the 2014 F3 season, specifically a challenging day at Norisring, where Max Verstappen’s exceptional skills began to shine.
“These were constantly changing conditions.
“It was raining, drying out – and I think he drove an average of two seconds faster than everyone else.
“And it was clear then that this was an extraordinary talent.”
While Helmut Marko passionately believed in Verstappen’s potential, Toto Wolff’s preference leaned toward Esteban Ocon at the time.
Wolff, however, defended his decision when asked about the near miss. “I don’t think there was a lot of hype about Max back then because Max and Van Amersfoort didn’t win the championship that year. Esteban Ocon won in a more competitive car.”