Marko reveals reason for choosing Verstappen over Sainz – “He was almost at the same level as Max”

Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko revealed the reason for choosing Max Verstappen over Carlos Sainz, saying one peaked better than the other.

Verstappen and Sainz both made their debuts in the sport in 2015 with Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team. Although Sainz outqualified his team ten to nine, it was the Dutchman who delivered better on Sundays, scoring 49 points to the Spaniard’s 18.

A year later, ‘Super Max’ was promoted to the senior team at the expense of the Smooth Operator. The latter ultimately never secured a promotion, and made his move to Renault, where he established himself enough to be signed by McLaren and then Ferrari.

Marko revealed the reason for choosing Verstappen over Sainz, saying their current driver was a little bit quicker.  

“Sainz was unlucky to meet Verstappen at a crucial moment,” the 78-year-old told AutoRevue, as quoted by Planet F1.

“We already saw in the first test at Silverstone he was super-fast right away. He was almost at the same level as Verstappen. Almost. But when we had the choice between Verstappen and Sainz, it was clear.”

Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen STR launch. Spain February 2015
Sainz (left) with Verstappen (right) during their early days. Source:

Still an elite

“Both were disappointed, but his father the most,” the Austrian recalled after Red Bull informed them of their decision.

“We loaned him out to Renault first because our contract was still running.

“Sainz is definitely one of the top people. He’s proven that. In my eyes, he disenchanted (Ferrari teammate Charles) Leclerc. Sainz was there in terms of speed, Leclerc just had a lot of accidents.

“And at McLaren you saw (Lando) Norris is the one of the boys who has established himself best. Sainz absolutely kept up with him,” he concluded his praise for his former driver.

Read more: Sainz happy “nothing dirty” happened between Hamilton and Verstappen

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