May 22 (GMM) Max Verstappen is threatening to steal the show in Monaco.
Already hailed by mentor Dr Helmut Marko as a ‘new Senna’, the 17-year-old sensation appeared to fulfil that promise on Thursday by almost beating world champion Lewis Hamilton to the best time in the dry first practice session.
“For a guy that can’t rent a hire car yet, that’s enormously impressive,” said Christian Horner.
Crucially, Horner is not the young Dutchman’s team boss, but the boss of Red Bull’s senior team. Currently, Verstappen drives for the junior squad Toro Rosso.
This year, the 2014 Toro Rosso sensation Daniil Kvyat was promoted to the senior seat after just a single season on the grid, but in 2015 he has struggled so far.
Ominously, the notoriously unapologetic chief of Red Bull’s driver programme, Austrian Marko, is already starting to sound critical of Kvyat’s progress.
“Helmut has always had a habit of calling things as they are,” said Horner, but the Briton also defended the struggling Russian Kvyat.
“He’s young, he’s developing all the time. We can see a great deal of potential in him,” Horner insisted.
But also noteworthy is that Verstappen’s early form has caught the eye of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is famous for pushing the stars of the show into the best cars possible.
“I am really happy with him,” the 84-year-old said in Monaco.
“He and Carlos Sainz are doing a bloody good job. Verstappen is very impressive,” Ecclestone added.